Three goals in seven minutes by Levante more than enough to sink Barcelona.
Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona fails to improve on the road as they drop another game, this time away to Levante. Despite going into halftime up 1-0, Levante overmatched them in a span of seven minutes to clinch the game.
Valverde’s line-up immediately raised questions with Nelson Semedo at left-back with Jordi Alba on the bench who picked up a knock in their last game. Meanwhile the back-up, Junior Firpo, watched the game from the stands. This meant Sergi Roberto was at right-back.
The other change was Frenkie de Jong playing the Busquets role with Arturo Vidal starting.
The first-half was decent from Barcelona despite not many opportunities. However, Luis Suarez was forced off before the half due to injury.
Lionel Messi scored Barcelona’s only goal via a penalty after Semedo was brought down in the box. At that point it seemed that the Catalans were on their way to a win despite not playing well.
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But Levante came out in the second-half believing they could still get something out of the game. After a poor clearance by Gerard Pique, Levante quickly got the ball back in the box. With Pique still coming back, Jose Campaña equalized.
Two minutes later, Borja Mayoral gave them the lead after receiving a ball in between Pique and Lenglet and firing just outside the area. Five minutes later, Nemanja Rajod scored the third off a free-kick, taking a deflection off of Sergio Busquets.
That is all the home side needed as Barcelona had no reaction and Levante could have scored a fourth late but fatigue had set in.
Seven minutes was all it took to rattle Barcelona and score three times. But it’s not at all surprising. Too often this season Valverde’s side have been dominated on the road. Not even Messi was enough to save his blemishes this time.
The team seems to have no answer on the road when they go down or face some sort of adversity. The manager seems to revert to chucking in offensive players and hope that Messi produces some magic.
For a historic club like Barcelona, that mentality is not good enough.
When Sergio Busquets, one of the club captains, cannot explain what happened, there is something obviously wrong.
Depending on other results, they can find themselves one point behind first place. Normally, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. But given what’s happened under Valverde, it’s a cause for concern. They ran away with the league the two seasons before. The Champions League is what gave them trouble.
Now, they’re struggling in both competitions and playing poor football as well. Unless something changes, their chances at winning any sort of silverware looks grim.