opinions | 2015-09-17
Roma frustrates Barcelona on the stage of the club's third Champions League
A laboured draw rewarded the Italians and left a bitter taste as Rafinha was severely injured.
On the pitch where Barcelona had one of their finest moments, clinching the Champions League title with pure dominance against Manchester United in 2009 (2-0), this time revisiting the Stadio Olimpico they weren’t so happy afterwards. Barça couldn’t beat a stubborn Roma side who defended well with pretty much every man behind the ball, so Lionel Messi’s 100th Champions League game ended 1-1.
Hero of the hour was Alessandro Florenzi, who scored an incredible goal from the halfway line, much to the blank astonishment of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who was caught off his line. “It’s not an error of Marc“, Gerard Pique immediately said on Twitter. The sensational goal “took a bit of the team's spirit”, as Luis Enrique admitted: “We had a lot of chances in the game but Florenzi's goal came with a bit of luck and these are the kind of risks we take with our kind of defence." So no blame for ter Stegen either, who didn’t address the press afterwards.
“We were unlucky with their goal, only one in every 50 shots like that goes in”, grumbled Sergi Roberto, who again looked solid at right back, but didn’t provide enough help in attack. Same goes with Jordi Alba, who nevertheless had a splendid chance in the dying minutes, only for Manolas to sweep the ball off the line.
Surprisingly, the team thought they did enough to beat a solid Roma team, who were more than happy with the draw and cheered it like a win. “We played well and had opportunities to score. They scored with a long-range shot and then drew back into defence. We created much more chances but we weren’t able to convert any of them”, said Luis Suárez, who scored the opening goal by header but was very quiet the rest of the game.
Barcelona lacking ideas and attacking threat
In fact, Barça didn’t do enough to beat the deep staying Italians. Not enough movement, a lack of ideas, bad decision-making in the final third and a poor shooting accuracy (Messi alone had 7 shots, 5 were off target) were key factors for the quite disappointing draw, considering that the Catalans have been in charge for pretty much the entire game and had 69 percent of possession. "When you play in these competitions with the physical and technical level there is and you meet a closed off side it's difficult, even if we did have our chances. I think it was a game in which we deserved the win”, Luis Enrique concluded.
It’s only the 7th official match of the new season, but you could already tell that Barcelona are short-handed in squad depth and therefore, looked somehow exhausted in the end. For the badly injured Rafinha, out for six months, who should bring some new verve to the tame attacking game, the immediate replacement was Mascherano –and the creativity out of the Barça midfield naturally has stalled.
"We did all we could to win, but we didn't have any luck. We can't look for excuses", Suarez said, surely thinking about Messi’s shot on the crossbar too. Besides that, there wasn’t much danger for Roma, so Barcelona's Champions League title defence started slowly at a stadium where they actually had good memories of. With Rafinha’s horrible injury and a rather unnecessary draw, the memories were somehow tarnished on their first return.
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Alex Truica is a freelance football writer and columnist for Grup14. Follow him on Twitter: @kicker_atr.
WRITTEN BY: Alex Truica
Creator of The Pep Episodes. Has a Bachelor degree in journalism and works as a freelance sports journalist and editor, covering international football.