Barcelona’s defeat to Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday evening may have happened for several reasons, but a lack of motivation and character is to blame.
Kostas Manolas scored a late header to complete a remarkable comeback victory for Roma over Barcelona and send the Italians into their first European Cup semi-final in 34 years.
Barcelona, who led 4-1 after the first leg, conceded first when striker Edin Džeko poked home, and went further behind after captain Danielle De Rossi’s converted penalty, before defender Manolas flicked home the decisive goal.
Lack of character…
Not one Barcelona player, except for Gerard Pique looked entirely bothered about their performance as the game developed. Much of the ‘fall of Rome’ will fall on the shoulders of Lionel Messi, but for someone who has done what he has for the club and this season – when so many of the squad have under-performed – that would be unfair.
Yes, Messi was not great – but the performances of Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Jordi Alba should be looked at closer, whilst Andres Iniesta looked a shadow of his old self.
Pique did all he could to lead the team on, but a visible argument with Ernesto Valverde over tactics halted any sort of progression for Barca.
Barca fans will feel the same, that the team has just a few characters and leaders – and with Iniesta’s pending move to China, that will need to be addressed within the summer transfer window or within the squad.
Having been top of La Liga since one can remember this season – Barca have had little competition in recent weeks, labouring through games and playing badly.
Their performance following the recent international break against Sevilla should of given Valverde a clear indication of their collapse in form. Able to come back in that game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and draw 2-2 – to do that again at two-nil down to Roma was simply too much.
The title is all-but sewn up and the Copa del Rey is likely to follow – but with a month left to play, fans of the club must now be wondering what the team have in store – for their is very little to play for.
What happens next then?
Is it too early to discuss a change? After just one season under Valverde, Barca do not look any better than they ever have been.
At times yes, they have looked back to their unbeatable best – but with Messi in your side, that is possible every week.
Josep Maria Bartomeu’s public apology following the Stadio Olimpico defeat is just another kick in the teeth for Barca fans, who remain discontent with his leadership of the club.
Calls from the likes of former president Joan Gaspart, who was disgusted with the defeat and Joan Laporta, who is probably sipping his morning coffee uttering ‘I told you so’ – will now come for a complete change.
But having spent so big on Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho – surely that change should have already come……