Sloppy Barca stumble to Slavia draw
Champions League Group F, Camp Nou - Barcelona 0 Slavia Prague 0
A vibrant, enterprising performance from Slavia showed up a slow and incoherent Barca, earning them a deserved draw. The likelihood is that Barca will still progress and Slavia will still not make the Europa League, but they are a fine team with a tremendous attitude.
Slavia hurled themselves at Barca from the off, their pace and intensity allowing them to gain the ascendancy in midfield while, out wide, Peter Olayinka was a particular threat. But it was Barca who created the two best opportunities of a thrilling first half, Nelson Semedo shooting against Ondrej Kolar when sent through and Lionel Messi bending a curler against the bar.
Such was the pace of the first half that a less coruscating second was understandable, but Slavia had the better of it even if Barca still created the better chances. At full-time, the home crowd were not impressed and rightly so - they have good individuals but their team is a mess and there is no reason to expect an improvement.
How long can Ernesto Valverde last? Barcelona should be better than they are. It is true that keep players are past their best, but there is no reason for their lack of pace, cohesion and imagination. Under him, they may still win the league because there's no-one able to stop them or, more properly, outscore Messi, but they will, most likely, be knocked out of the Champions League by the first decent team they play.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ondrej Kolar (Slavia Prague) A confident, decisive presence who kept his defenders calm and made good saves when he had to.
Slavia Prague: Kolar 8, Coufal 6, Kudela 7, Frydrych 7, Boril 7, Soucek 7, Traore 6, Stanci 7, Sevcik 7, Masopust 6, Olayinka 7. Subs: Tecl 6, Husbauer 6.
Lionel Messi has failed to score in consecutive Champions League home games for the first time since April 2015.
Barcelona have failed to score in a competitive home game for the first time since February 2018 against Getafe in La Liga.
11’ - NOW THIS IS A CHANCE! Pique clips a ball directly into Semedo's path, and he's in! Sevcik is behind him but he's not going to catch up, and he shoots at the keeper goes down ... but directly into his studs. He needed to go for power there, or to lift it, Peter Beardsley-style.
27’ - Olayinka is giving Barca plenty and he totally diddles Semedo inside and out before picking a lovely disguised cut-back for Stanciu, who sweeps a fine shot that looks like it's going in, until it flicks off Masopust and goes high. Lovely stuff.
36’ - Have a look! Vidal takes the ball as Barca look to counter and he bends a ball in behind for Messi, who zooms in from the right leaving Boril choking on the dust. He could open his body to tee up Griezmann but either decides not to or the angle disappears because he hangs on too long, so he bends a rasper that absolutely clatters the bar, close to the corner. He's quite good at football.
42’ - Traore gives it away and Griezmann collects. but his ball is behind Vidal. Still, Vidal opens his body to play in Messi, who drives ... and Kolar shoves behind!
42’ - In comes the corner and Pique meets it on the run with a thumping header ... but Kolar is there to tip behind! That's a great save!
76’ - Lovely from Fati! he curves a cross with the outside of his foot which finds Messi in the centre... on the run, he pokes goalwards ... and again Kolar denies him.