Barcelona stay stuck in rut


6/11/2019 18:05:00
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Barcelona's struggles continued on Tuesday night with a 0-0 draw against Slavia Prague in Champions League Group F action at the Camp Nou.

 

Just days after their poor display at Levante, Barcelona did nothing to win back the favour of their supporters against the Czech visitors, who went toe-to-toe with the Catalans and certainly had their fair share of chances. There were some brilliant moments from Lionel Messi, but little else, leaving manager Ernesto Valverde even more embattled than before.

 

After not even being named to the matchday squad for the weekend defeat at Levante, Ousmane Dembele was back in Valverde's starting XI for the injured Luis Suarez. Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba were also back in the line-up.

 

Just like their previous encounter in the Czech Republic, Slavia Prague were plenty dangerous when they launched a counter-attack and after a half-hour, it was not a stretch to say that the visitors had been the better side. They certainly had the best chance, with Peter Olayinka cutting a pass back to Nicolae Stanciu, who fired on goal, only to see it deflect off teammate Lukas Masopust and out of play.

 

Still, when there is a Messi, there is a way, and a fantastic solo run from the Argentine came within a whisker of a wondergoal, but his left-footer thundered off the crossbar.

 

That was followed by another two chances, with Arturo Vidal feeding Messi on the left, but Slavia Prague goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar parrying the effort to safety. The resulting corner kick saw Gerard Pique almost head in if not for the reaction save of Kolar.

 

An injury to Jordi Alba forced Valverde into his first substitution at half-time, with Sergi Roberto on to replace the left-back, forcing a switch from the right to the left for Nelson Semedo.

 

The second half started with Slavia Prague sitting in a low block with a line of six to make it difficult for Barcelona to find any space. One of the few times when they did find a hole, it was ruled that Messi's foot was offside and a goal scored by Vidal was correctly not given.

 

With it still scoreless midway through the second stanza, Ansu Fati was called on to replace Dembele and make a difference, but things had shifted and most of the action was in Barcelona's defensive half.

 

Valverde sought to regain control of the midfield and brought on Ivan Rakitic for Busquets, but it was Ansu Fati who summoned some magic with a pass into Messi, but Kolar blocked the close-range shot.

 

Even when Slavia Prague committed an error in their own half, Barcelona still couldn't take advantage with Rakitic spraying a shot well off the mark. In the end, Barcelona could only hang their heads as they walked off the pitch amid of shower of whistles from the stands and with more doubts than ever.

 

 

 

PUKmedia/ Marca


 

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