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Three reasons for Barcelona’s collapse against Real Madrid



Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona stared at a familiar situation following the full-time whistle at Spotify Camp Nou on Wednesday night against Real Madrid. After having headed into the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg with a 1-0 advantage, they failed to make the most of the opportunity and lost 0-4 on the night.

Given Blaugrana’s recent history in the second leg of any competition, some might have anticipated the result already. Travelling back in time, Barcelona’s performances in the second-leg fixtures have never been appealing, to say the very least.

Haunted by the ghosts of the past

Back in April 2018, Barcelona were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League quarter-final at the hands of AS Roma. Peter Drury’s iconic commentary during Kostas Manolas’ winning goal still beats the numbing eardrums of every Barcelona fan.

‘Corner taken quickly’ – This time, it was Steve Hunter who delivered the fabled words and this time, it was Liverpool, who came from 3-0 down to win the game 4-3 on aggregate in the second leg.

After all this while, one might expect Barcelona to learn from their mistakes. After all, it is a new-look team altogether, under a new manager who has been there and done it as a player, that is sitting at the top of the points table in La Liga.

But they fell to Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League QF second leg last season, lost to Manchester United in the knockout playoffs second leg this term, and faced another second-leg debacle last night.

It is not the say that Barcelona have not improved. After all, before Wednesday’s outing, they beat Real Madrid on three consecutive occasions but they just could not repeat the feat when it mattered the most. 

It seems like the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the current team even though there is a viable improvement.

Injuries, injuries, and injuries

Barcelona missed Pedri, de Jong and Dembele against Real Madrid (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Injuries have played a big role in Barcelona’s elimination from cup competitions this season. 

Take the UEFA Champions League for instance. Against Inter Milan on Matchday 4 of the Champions League group stage, Barcelona needed a win, but the absence of Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, and Andreas Christensen played its due part as the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

Against Manchester United in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League tie, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were unavailable due to injuries.

On Wednesday, as the fans watched Madrid torment their beloved Barça, the likes of Dembele, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, and Christensen could do nothing but just watch along.

Will the outcome of the game have been different if Barcelona had a better midfield? Maybe so. But what is done is done and as Xavi said after the game, it’s time for Barcelona to ‘focus on the league’.

Lack of control and identity

Barcelona were far from being their usual self on the night. Some might argue that statistically, they were the better side, having enjoyed 53% possession, attempting more shots on goal (11) than Madrid (9), and forcing their opponents into more saves (5), but football is a game of goals and Madrid scored four.

Despite having more possession, Barcelona just could not manage to control the flow of the game. In that context, several players must be held accountable. To begin with, Raphinha had an absolute nightmare. 

Sergio Busquets could not control the game. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

The Brazil international just could not go past Eduardo Camavinga as he was eventually replaced by Ferran Torres, who did not do anything better by the way.

Sergio Busquets, on the other hand, missed many passes and although Franck Kessie was the better one from the lot in the opening period, he could not repeat the show after the restart.

This essentially goes back to not having quality players like Pedri and de Jong available, who provide that sense of control and composure in the middle. All in all, it was a collective failure and one just cannot put a finger on one individual. Everyone involved must take the blame and move on.

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