The Champions League is Barcelona’s big dream. Messi’s. Bartomeu’s. All fans. The failures of the last seasons have made it more necessary to shine in Europe. But this Barcelona will find it hard to reach that objective with these players and with this game. This Barca is far form Europe’s elite and only a Messi miracle can avoid more disappointment. What we saw on Tuesday in Naples was the best demonstration that the Champions League is close to becoming a new nightmare.
Quique Setien put on Valverde’s face when he made the line up. Four central midfielders to try and control the ball. He achieved his objective but it counted for nothing. Barca touched it, touched it, touched it again but without depth. Not one shot on target in the first half against a Napoli that sat very deep to deactivate Barca. And on top of that Junior’s error gave Dries Mertens a goal. Messi could not shine in the temple of Maradona.
Things had to change after the second half. Barca made defensive mistakes and Messi was right, playing like this they will not win the Champions League. Not even progress to the quarters. Griezmann’s goal put make up on the result, but not the bad, boring play and lack of efficiency. The 1-1 gives them a chance of going through, but the reality is that at this Barca there’s no football beyond what Messi offers.