After winning the UCL competition in Berlin back to 2015, Barcelona UCL performances are much more than just worrying. Roma disaster is the recent example of UCL exit after getting knocked out by Juventus in 2016/17’s edition. Who would have thought Barcelona would display a lackluster performance at Turin, conceding 3 and a goalless draw at the Camp Nou after Remontada vs PSG. Let’s analyze everything we’ve got to see thus far.
What are the reasons?
Valverde’s cowardliness in UCL away games. We’ve never intended to set out for an attack after we’ve got a lead, be it a narrow one. Last year, we got to see a club like Barcelona failing to hold on to a huge first-leg advantage over an average Roma side. In football, anything can happen and sometimes your prediction is almost reversed at the final whistle. Losing a game when you give a hundred percent feels like nothing but losing a game knowing you were the stronger side feels like a humiliation. The same feeling got real, just a year ago in Italy as we crashed down in Rome.
Talking about the last year, Barcelona had average players for bench and Valverde, in my opinion, didn’t rotate the squad smartly. Same playing eleven was deployed for most games of the season, resulting yet another failure at the European stage.
Another worrying reason for FC Barcelona is the below average form of Luis Suarez. He is undoubtedly one of the finest strikers in the world but his numbers are pathetic and he hasn’t scored in UCL away games for the last three years. For Barca to win the European Championship this year, Suarez needs to step up and should score in the knock out stage games. Luis has been magnificent in the last three weeks and we’re still believing on his capabilities at least for this year. Scoring in the return leg vs Lyon this Wednesday will be the perfect way to activate the prowess of El Pistolero.
Performances this season
Barca has played satisfactorily this season, except for the goalless draw at Lyon two weeks ago. After kickstarting the season with a Lionel Messi hat-trick at home followed by a convincing performance at Wembley was the best possible way to start the European vengeance. Later in the competition, Messi was unavailable due to injury in both the ties vs Inter Milan but we got the points we wanted and finished top in group B which was hailed as ‘Group of Death’ earlier by the Pundits.
Sadly, Barca didn’t score anything past OL’s goalie three weeks ago in the Round of 16 of the competition, but we do believe in the atmosphere of the Camp Nou and hopefully, it will boost player’s confidence on Wednesday night.
Signings and Impact:
Despite losing one of the all-time great legendary Andres Iniesta at the end of the previous season, Barca has somehow managed to get a grasp with the addition of Arthur and I think he adds a lot to the team. Having him on the starting XI gives us more confidence since Arthur Melo is one such player that loves to play with the ball.
I didn’t know much about Lenglet till last year but he is making us forget Umtiti’s long injury and putting some brilliant display in almost all of the big games we’ve played. Also, his CB pairing with Pique is outstanding. Last game vs Madrid would be a superb example to support the former statement.
Signing Arturo Vidal after selling Paulinho is another wise decision made by the board because of the former’s defensive capabilities plus the intensity that he brings in. Barca signed Boetang at the winter transfer and although we don’t see much of his performance, we are optimistic about his goal scoring capabilities especially in the league games when Suarez needs rest in a crucial period on the latter half of the season.
Squad and chances to win the CL this year:
President Bartomeu and captain Leo Messi publicly announced that Champions League trophy this season is the topmost priority and they are ready to do everything to bring the European glory to the Camp Nou for the first time since 2015. It is true that the Catalan club has the most dangerous attacking side in Europe but we need every front player to be in form. A midfield with Arthur, Busquets, Vidal, Alena, and Rakitic looks fine but we need all of them fit and strong. Stegen is our second best player this season after Leo Messi and having his same form to the end of the season is essential. Pique lead the defense with Umtiti/Lenglet and CB pair is also fine. Having options between Sergi and Semedo at the right is always good and we want to see a number of assists from Alba of course. Although Barcelona has players they need to win the champions league, rotating players smartly for different competition and making the right decision at the right instances: it all comes down to Ernesto Valverde. Let’s hope everything goes right and we lift the treble!
Visca El Barca!