In this game that was intended to be nothing more than a final outing for both teams competing in the UEFA Champions League, FC Barcelona may have just found out certain strengths of their own they did not pay much attention to before.
The game in itself was pretty free-flowing and did not have the Barcelona stamp of control all over it. Whether it be the huge gap in the number of passes or simply just the possession, neither could sugarcoat the sheer amount of chances Viktoria Plzen managed to conjure up as well.
Accumulating nearly double the total amount of shots that the Catalans had (11) and having had 22 shots, out of which 8 were on target compared to Barcelona’s 7, showcasing the vulnerabilities of this Blaugrana side when it comes to giving away opportunities to opposition teams.
It highlights an integral issue within the team structure. Top European teams are expected to be harder to break down and more difficult to conjure up quality chances against, and albeit fielding a weaker team this time around, Xavi’s team proved to be not that hard to defensively rattle. And this should prompt the manager to look into what exactly could be causing this consistent lapse of structure and control.
Certain parts of the game seemed rather awkward for both teams, with consistent turnovers and hurdled attempts at goals being a constant flurry of action for both keepers playing. In both goals that Barcelona conceded, there was a major role played by concentration lapse by the defending players in each scenario. Pablo Torre’s concession of a penalty in the first, and the inability of any of the playing center backs to pick out Plzen’s main target man and cover him when a cross was delivered that he managed to bury in with a header.
Barcelona’s first goal came from a defensive lapse as well on the Czech team’s behalf, something that Marcos Alonso was able to take advantage of. Chances like these are meant to be taken advantage of, yet simultaneously giving them away is fundamentally going to be a problem Barcelona may just keep facing if they don’t address it tactically.
On another rather positive note, a great discovery may just be Ferran Torres’s own level of
clinicality while he’s been fielded as an out-and-out striker for the team. He scored 2 goals from the 3 shots he attempted and created a total of 2 chances for the team as well. Maybe the Spaniard could truly come into his own were he to be deployed as a center-forward more often in the future, and it’s a development that may even be seen implemented in the Spanish national team at some point.
This game now concludes this Champions League campaign for La Blaugrana, and they end
their journey with a total of 7 points accumulated out of a total of 18, an extremely disappointing tally given the quality they possess. However, it is not yet the end of the season, simply the end of a singular competition.
The Catalans can still compete for La Liga, the Europa League, Copa Del Ray, and the Spanish Super Cup, all of which are major titles they will aim to achieve in this long season ahead, and once they regain their injured players, makes it seem like a very
FC Barcelona next face Almeria at Camp Nou, before traveling to face the in-form Osasuna. These are the last two remaining hurdles before the FIFA World Cup takes center stage and club football is put to a halt.