There were no late heroics this time for Barcelona who put in another miserable display in their 1-0 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
The performance wasn’t any better compared to what they showed against Real Sociedad over the weekend. The difference was Shakhtar actually took one of the number of goal scoring opportunities they had.
Following the Real Sociedad match, Xavi Hernandez said that in El Clasico against Real Madrid, they played well and didn’t deserve to lose and that against La Real they played terribly and didn’t deserve to win.
Well, against Shakhtar, they played terribly and did deserve to lose.
Needing only a draw to secure a place in the round of 16, Barcelona looked hapless and hopeless in the opening half. Shakhtar created a handful of opportunities and were able to take advantage in the 40th minute.
Xavi made four substitutions ten minutes into the second half. Joao Felix, Lamine Yamal, Pedri and Alejandro Balde replaced Ferran Torres, Raphinha, Oriol Romeu and Marcos Alonso, respectively.
While their inclusions did result in Barcelona getting control of the ball and spending the last half hour or so pinning Shakhtar Donetsk, they were still unable to create any clear cut chances.
The lack of offensive output was evident so much so that they ended the game with only one shot on target.
“The sensations are not good,” Joao Cancelo said after the game. “We have been playing very poorly for two games. Against Real Sociedad we did not deserve the victory and today we did not play a good game to get the three points either.”
Barcelona played 60 good minutes against Real Madrid and since then, everything has been a struggle. They were more than lucky to win against Real Sociedad and now the loss against Shakhtar has caused the alarm bells to ring.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be the case if this type of display was a rarity but it hasn’t. Aside from a good stretch of games last season, Barcelona have been inconsistent. There’s a debate to be had whether or not the signings they’ve made this season have improved the team. The fact of the matter is there at least one at the moment whose answer is a definite “no.”
Barcelona still depend on themselves to top the group and reach the knockout phase of the Champions League. But plenty of things need to change, starting with the performances. The question now is whether they’ll be able to make them and if Xavi Hernandez is the right person to make those adjustments.