Barcelona went to Prague with the conviction of repeating sensations, dominance and continuity in the game he achieved against Eibar against an opponent who, from the beginning, was going to turn the party into a guerrilla war. Speed, intense pressure, many individual duels and a battle for the center of the field.
The Czech team, characterized by being the one that runs the most kilometers of the 2019/20 Champions League, brought out, again, all the problems that Ernesto Valverde’s team is dragging on the great UCL nights from Rome. Unable to impose his rhythm of play in the face of very aggressive pressures and liquidate contrary to the backlash, he suffered much more than what would be his individual quality.
“There are times when you have to go down to the mud and defend.” The phrase corresponds to Ernesto Valverde in a press conference after finishing the match. The reality is that Barcelona walked among the mudflats throughout the game, fell into the traps that Jyndrich Trpisovsky prepared for him and was inferior to his rival despite his greater football talent. From the board and the tactic, the Czechoslovak team allowed themselves to dream of victory because of the lack of Barcelona hit, but also because of the lack of control from the ball domain.
As we can see in the images, the Slavia of Prague shortly clogged the central track at the Barcelona ball exit (Sergio Busquets) as well as the lateral ones (Nélson Semedo and Jordi Alba), while the interiors were not staggered correctly to offer different heights Pass An aspect that resulted in the lack of success and participation of Sergio Busquets (30 passes and 78% accuracy) Frenkie de Jong (46 passes and 85%) and Arthur Melo (44 passes and 80%). Barcelona’s response was to go down a step to Leo Messi and stretch to Nélson Semedo, but the Portuguese barely took advantage of his incorporations through the outer lane.
Although in the initial stages of the first part, Ernesto Valverde’s team made a profit from his pressure in the opposite field, where he managed to recover the fast ball but did not transform those scoring chances into goal shots, in the equator of the first part Barcelona began not to press up properly, with Luis Suárez and Leo Messi letting the opponent move forward and showing a serious lack of coordination at the collective level.
With this, the local team began to beat the midfielders in the middle of the field who were late for their brand. Overcome by rival pressure and the null appearance of a well-oiled pass circuit to resist against rivals that ooze energy and rapport, Barcelona returned to live the hell of Anfield and Rome, but Marc-André ter Stegen made an act of presence to save his team. This is how you came to rest. With Leo Messi and the German goalkeeper holding Barcelona on the edge of the wire, something already usual this season.