Paris part II. Barcelona lose 3-0 to Juventus in another disappointing game in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal. The club will once again need a miraculous comeback in the second leg to stay in the competition. Patience is running thin amongst fans. These games are getting harder and harder to watch. Different country, different opponent, similar result.
Juventus came out and carried out their gameplan to perfection. Exploit Barcelona’s weakness in the counterattacks, attack from the wings, and prevent Ter Stegen from playing from the back. Their first two goals initiated on the wing. First goal came with Cuadrado taking on Mathieu 1v1 with ease. Meanwhile, the second goal, it was Mandzukic who played Dybala inside. Both times, Dybala was wide open in the box and had all the time in the World to finish. Unacceptable by Barcelona’s defense. Busquet’s absence was on full display for the team. Mascherano was a bit slow to track back on counterattacks and failed to cover Dybala in both goals.
It also did not help that Luis Enrique continues to chose his lineups with almost the sole purpose of blowing titles. Mathieu had cost the team the game against Malaga (and all season) yet got the start over Jordi Alba once more. Sure, the french defender is more physical and stronger in the air but his performances speak for themselves. Constantly out of position, flat footed, clueless when on the ball and overall just one of the worst defenders I’ve seen in Barcelona.
Then, seeing how the game was being played, Lucho decided to show us his tactical brilliance and take out the worst player on the pitch for the worst player on the bench. Andre Gomes came in to save the day for Barcelona. Andre Gomes. Both Denis Suarez and Arda Turan have fallen deeper and deeper in Barcelona’s depth. Despite Turan being Barcelona’s second highest goalscorer in Champions League and Denis Suarez putting on amazing performances in his limited minutes this season. Tactical decisions that have killed our season.
Personally, the most frustrating part of today’s game was the fact that did not play awful. In fact, they actually played pretty well. Scoreline aside, they dominated the game and had equal if not more dangerous opportunities as Juventus. Difference was, Juve scored and we didn’t. Everything that could’ve gone wrong today happened. On a good day, we could’ve won easily. Suarez scores his 1v1, Iniesta scores his 1v1, Messi scores his opportunity. That’s at least 3 goals. Yet somehow, we’re in a huge hole… again.
No one likes losing but it becomes an excellent way to dissect the team’s problems and truly figure out a possible solution. After the game in Paris, Luis Enrique studied the team’s problems and found a solution that led us to victory. In a sense, it’s better that we lose. It bring us back to reality and gives us a chance to face our mistakes face to face. Had everything gone right, perhaps the team’s problems would’ve gone unnoticed. Sometimes, it takes a disaster to get things right. Remember, it took the first trophyless season in six years to win the club’s second treble.
They’ve done it once and they can do it again. If they can come back from 4-0 down, they can come back from 3-0. Anything is possible. However, the only thing standing in our way is not necessarily the opponents. As great as Juve is, I have no doubt in my mind that they can do it. It just comes down to how Luis Enrique manages to solve this equation and if the players are in the right state of mind to do it. But if no change is made, Barcelona will continue to send off their manager in the worst possible way.