July 24, 2019
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Barcelona's 4-0 loss at Liverpool poses serious questions

Barcelona, May 8 (efe-epa).- Barcelona’s stinging 4-0 defeat at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium has ended the Catalan powerhouse’s dream of another Champions League crown and left numerous questions to be answered, with many focusing on the squad and its loss of motivation.

- Has Barça lost its way under coach Valverde?

Many things can be read from the results. Up until recently, it was unimaginable for Barcelona to win without playing well, meaning that historically the result was not as important as the positive attitude towards the beautiful game. While it was important to win as often as possible, the way the win was achieved was even more important. Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona nourished itself directly from the club’s roots in soccer great and revolutionary coach Johan Cruyff’s legacy. Luis Enrique evolved that quality but somehow Valverde has failed to go further, despite still retaining the chance of claiming two of the three crowns possible this season.

- Has this Barça forgotten Cruyff’s legacy?

Absolutely. One of the Dutch coach’s maxims was to defend while in possession of the ball: "Your opponent cannot attack you if you have the ball." But Barça played like a small, fearful team that sat back and, historically, this is not a way to win.

Barça seemed to have given up on its style, its essence. Not so long ago the team subdued and ground down its rivals.

- Why does Barça miss when faced with important European clashes?

In recent years, the Catalan team has lost tautness when coming toward the end of great European campaigns. It fell 4-0 in Paris against PSG, 3-0 in Turin against Juventus, 3-0 in Rome last year and 4-0 Tuesday night in Anfield. In order to avoid that, the team signed Arturo Vidal so that "the Rome thing" would not be repeated. Last night the Chilean was good, but Barcelona repeated the same mistakes.

- Is the coach's continuity assured?

If the coaches had already been singled out by the board of directors after the 3-0 in Rome, his future must be hanging by a thread following the 4-0 in Liverpool. President, Josep Maria Bartomeu's words after the match defined Anfield as "another blow," like the one he lived through in Rome. "It is very difficult to explain, it also happened to us last year," he said.

- And Messi?

After a great first leg in which he scored two goals, the Argentine had the idea of playing in another Champions League final in his head. In fact, he had already pointed to that desire at the beginning of seasons: "We want that beautiful cup." He left Anfield annoyed, not knowing what had happened.

- Did the squad analyze its performance?

Two players, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez, as well as the coach and the president, were the spokesmen for the team. Busquets asked to be forgiven, Suarez asked for forgiveness, Valverde assumed his responsibility and Bartomeu could not find any explanations and left any decisions until after Spain’s Copa del Rey final.

- How can a team at this level let in a goal like the one that made the score 4-0?

That goal will haunt Barcelona. A concatenation of errors with the score at 3-0 against framed the team’s mood. It was a summary of the game, a close shot on goal by Divock Origi from a predatory corner kick supplied by Trent Alexander-Arnold. After that, darkness fell.

- Had Barcelona allowed another team such a comeback in European competition before?

There is always a first time.

- Was the loss of Ousmane Dembélé more important than those of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino?

Considering the outcome, this was clear. The France forward had been close to settling the outcome of the tie in the first leg, but he missed two clear chances. Unlike Barça, Liverpool had a plan, with different players and an idea of what the match could be like, with intensity, speed and anticipation. It went well.

- Is Coutinho’s emotional state recoverable?

The Brazilian was the most expensive signing in the history of Barça, but it now seems unlikely that he can recover his best form. On the pitch, he looks like a lost soul. The problem for the clubs is the vast investment made and, above all, how to amortize it.

- Are changes expected in the coaching team?

Nothing is expected to change until after the Copa del Rey. It will be then when the board will reflect and after meeting with the technical crew a new course will be charted. Valverde’s continuity will be one of the fundamental matters under discussion.

fa/hh/jt

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