Antwerp stuns Barcelona with late winner, leaving Xavi Hernandez under pressure

The problems continue at Barcelona following a 3-2 loss to Royal Antwerp in the Champions League.
Royal Antwerp FC v FC Barcelona: Group H - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Royal Antwerp FC v FC Barcelona: Group H - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 / BSR Agency/GettyImages

On a night where Barcelona finished top of their group in the Champions League, it could also very well marked the beginning of the end for Xavi Hernandez.

Barcelona once again put in another embarrassing performance in a 3-2 loss away to Royal Antwerp.

As we've seen too often this season, Barcelona nearly conceded in the opening minute. They would concede only a minute later after Oriol Romeu misplayed a pass from Iñaki Peña, all but leaving Arthur Vermeeren alone to score the opener.

Unfortunately for Romeu, things wouldn't get much better.

Barcelona struggled to create many scoring opportunities or mesh given Xavi fielded an alternative side, with players in need of minutes and a debut for academy player Hector Fort.

Barcelona ended up scoring with their first shot on target as Lamine Yamal fed Ferran Torres through the middle with the latter controlling the ball and almost poking it past the keeper.

The Catalan side seemed to settle down following the equalizer. But their own shortcomings would again cost them as Romeu once again gave the ball away in his own half as Vincent Janssen scored Antwerp's second.

As a response, Pedri, Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Cancelo were brought on. But it was the Marc Guiu substitution for Robert Lewandowski that would pay dividends as the young striker equalized in the 91st minute.

At the time, it looked like it would prove to be the goal that gave Barcelona a point. A point that some could argue they did not deserve.

For those who believed that, they would be vindicated only a minute later as another lapse in defense saw George Ilenikhena score the winner for the home side.

It was euphoria for Antwerp and utter embarrassment for Barcelona who somehow managed to fall behind mere moments after drawing the game level.

What more can be said about Barcelona this season under Xavi Hernandez that hasn't already been said?

Their inability to defend or to press an opponent correctly has cost them in the league and the Champions League. Had the tiebreaker been head-to-head instead of goal difference, they would have finished behind Porto.

Limping into the knockout round is not how they were supposed to go through. To make matters worse, they lose out on the money they would have gotten had they won. Money that they cannot afford to lose given their economic frailty.

The lack of confidence from the players is evident and their manager doesn't have a clue on how to fix things. Their poor performances can't all be down to a lack of intensity as Xavi has said far too often this season. The problem lies deeper.

Next. Barcelona's Oriol Romeu linked with return to Girona. Barcelona's Oriol Romeu linked with return to Girona. dark

Xavi needs to find a solution quick. If he doesn't, it's only a matter of time before Joan Laporta finds someone else who can.