The finger of blame is always pointed at someone after a humiliating defeat and this time Ernesto Valverde is the recipient, following Barcelona’s Anfield capitulation.
Without forgetting the individual errors made on the pitch, notably by Jordi Alba and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, as well as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, the coach made some crucial mistakes on the night.
1. The same starting XI as the first leg
Everyone can agree that the 3-0 scoreline at the Camp Nou was deceptive after Liverpool dominated the match but, in the end, Lionel Messi was the difference. Jurgen Klopp’s approach had the better of them, and so it proved again in the second leg.
2. Coutinho and his umpteenth chance
It’s true that Ousmane Dembele wasn’t there and that Malcom hasn’t quite found his place yet, but Coutinho should not have been on the pitch. His attitude is poor, his performances have been even worse, and he doesn’t deserve a place in this team.
3. The substitutes changed nothing
It’s strange that the team lined up in the same way as the week before, especially when they looked so much better with Nelson Semedo instead of Coutinho at the Camp Nou. That same change occurred on Tuesday, then Arthur Melo arrived for Arturo Vidal, before Malcom came on in desperation.
4. Drowning in pressure, Arthur got just 20 minutes
Barcelona were overcome by Liverpool’s pressing and Vidal was lost and continually gave up possession, both at home and away. Arthur, who was signed for occasions like this, didn’t see the pitch until the 74th minute despite being their best midfielder in possession.
5. Those withdrawn are always the same
In the 74th minute Valverde took off Vidal. The Chilean was the only of their midfielders without a booking, and the only player who could correct an unfavourable position by committing a foul. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic were some way from their best, but it was Vidal who came off.