Since Barcelona lost 4-0 at Anfield against Liverpool, many people have tried to make sense of something which in many ways was unexplainable.
For the second successive year, Ernesto Valverde's side exited the Champions League in a humiliating fashion, giving up a three-goal lead. There was just one reason for the collapse against Liverpool, but there is one statistic which can help us understand many things.
Beyond the decisions made by the coach and the attitude of the players, there is a truth which cannot be ignored: the age of Barça's XI at Anfield was much higher than their opponent's. If we keep in mind that Barça looked out of steam at times, especially in the second half when Liverpool were superior physically, it adds much more value to the statistic.
In addition, we cannot forget that the fourth goal came from a corner from the boots of Trent Alexander-Arnold, a kid aged just 20.
In concrete, Liverpool's side was just over three years younger on average than Barça's. The average age of Jurgen Klopp's starting lineup was 26.2. Barça's was 29.09. The Liverpool side was Alisson (26), Alexander-Arnold (20), Matip (27), Van Dijk (27), Robertson (25), Henderson (28), Fabinho (25), Milner (33), Mane (27), Origi (24) and Shaqiri (27). Just one player over 30, none of the others even over 28.
As for Barcelona, Valverde went with: Ter Stegen (27), Sergi Roberto (27), Pique (32), Lenglet (23), Jordi Alba (30), Busquets (30), Arturo Vidal (31), Rakitic (31), Leo Messi (31), Luis Suárez (32) and Coutinho (26). Seven players aged 30 or over.
This shows how Barça's squad has aged. There's still quality but there's a lack of youth, with over half of the started in a Champions League semifinal over 30. It can't be a coincidence that the team which eliminated Barça and went on to become European champions is full of younger players. Maybe it explains more than we thought.