You either go big on a Champions League night or go home. Xavi is learning his lesson the hard way since his formation twitch might just have put Barca on the brink of a Champions League elimination.
Xavi may lament as much as he can about Slavko Vincic’s bad refereeing that saw Barca’s goal disallowed and a penalty appeal denied for the same reasons but he too carries the blame.
Xavi’s ingenious decision to field Alonso left Barca incompetent and even though we could spare Xavi the bashing due to the notable absences in the defense, but he got this one wrong.
A back four of Alonso, Christensen, and Garcia seemed to work at first but Inter were quick to exploit Alonso’s lack of pace. To make it worse, Alonso and Sergi Roberto’s ineffectiveness to stop Inter from crossing into the box had Barca at risk in regard to Inter’s height advantage.
Barca’s defense was fragile and Calhanoglou gave them the first test of a long-range shot which Ter Stegen miraculously put out. A warning to Barca but Xavi’s defense never learned and later Calhanoglou came back with the same long-range strike. Barca’s defense was caught off guard and this time the ball flew in. Again the defense failed to cover their goal and block those long-range shots. Inzaghi’s team fancy long-range shots and with Marcelo Brozovic’s return, it could be even worse for Barca in the return leg.
Raphinha on the left and Dembele on the right seemed disastrous as Raphinha ‘enjoyed’ a day off. He was mostly not involved and he seemed to add nothing to the team. On the other hand, Dembele was good with his dribbling but just couldn’t find his bull’s eye right or was late with his crosses. He lost possession 38 times.
Inter flourished in counters and they caught Barca flat-footed each time they surged forward. Xavi introduced Ansu Fati, Balde, and Kessie in the second half and seemed to give Barca a lifeline but it was a little too late as Inter sat back calmly and absorbed the pressure.
Xavi was outclassed tactically by Inzaghi in a game that saw Lewandoski isolated and Gavi was nowhere to be seen in the first half. Xavi may have assembled a super team but Simeone Inzaghi won the tactical battle and now Barca have everything to fight for at the Spotify Camp Nou in the return leg.