Barcelona and the Champions League quarter-final curse

OLIMPICO STADIUM, ROME, LAZIO, ITALY - 2018/04/10: Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi leave the pitch as AS Roma's members celebrate at the end during the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg football match AS Roma vs FC Barcelona.AS Roma won the match 3-0. (Photo by Carlo Hermann/KONTROLAB /LightRocket via Getty Images)
OLIMPICO STADIUM, ROME, LAZIO, ITALY - 2018/04/10: Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi leave the pitch as AS Roma's members celebrate at the end during the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg football match AS Roma vs FC Barcelona.AS Roma won the match 3-0. (Photo by Carlo Hermann/KONTROLAB /LightRocket via Getty Images) /
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Barcelona might be through to the Round of 16 of Champions League football in the ‘group of death’, but the difficult part has just begun for the Catalan club.

Rome was not built in a day and neither was the football club of AS Roma. The memories of the abysmal display of Barcelona in the game against AS Roma and the blowing of the final whistle at the Stadio Olimpico stadium will never fade away from a Barca fan’s mind.

The quarter-final of last season’s Champions League competition saw one of the biggest upsets. Barcelona was expected to be routine winners in the quarter-final especially after the 4-1 home win in the first leg. But the dream of a treble was shattered for Barcelona when AS Roma outplayed the Catalans to win the away leg by 3-0 (4-4 aggregate) and proceed to the next round of the competition on away goals.

This has been the usual story for the Spanish giants over the last five seasons. The team has exited at the quarter-final stage of every Champions League competition from the 2013-2014 season (except for 2014-2015 season when Barcelona had won the treble). Thus, the quarter-final round has become more of a curse now for the club. Moreover, Real Madrid who is the biggest rival of Barcelona has won the trophy for last three seasons continuously worsening the situation further for the Spanish giants.

The primary reason behind these defeats is Barcelona been unable to perform well in the away games especially in front of the highly motivated French and Italian crowd. Barcelona had received a 3-0 thrashing from Juventus in the away game of the 2016-2017 Champions League season which had led to their exit from the quarter-finals. The team had struggled on similar lines in the Round of 16 of the same season when they underwent a humiliating 4-0 defeat to PSG in the away game.

Barcelona have been hugely inconsistent over both the legs of the knockout round. They have often sacrificed the lead in the first leg and suffered an exit at the end of both the legs. Just like the defeat against Roma in the previous season, the club had given up a lead to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the 2015-2016 season.

The form Barcelona is showing this season with defenders struggling to maintain consistency, Marc-Andre ter Stegen unable to keep clean sheets and a missing third star forward in the team, let’s just say it won’t be a cakewalk for the Catalans this season too. The absence of legends like Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano, and Dani Alves from the team does not make it any easier for the club.

They were the first team to qualify to the Round of 16 this season after a 1-1 draw against Internazionale. But to secure the Champions League trophy, it will be absolutely vital for players like Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez, and Stegen to perform in big matches and get the treble boat sailing again for the club.