Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona had very little to play for ahead of Wednesday evening’s clash against Royal Antwerp, yet the Spanish club fell to a humbling 3-2 defeat as their level of performance dipped far below the level required in the UEFA Champions League.
A heavily rotated line-up saw a number of youngsters brought into the starting XI for the Catalan giants, and the lack of top-level experience showed as the match progressed….CONTINUE READING HERE
A crucial error gifted a clear chance to Arthur Vermeeren, who rolled the ball into the back of the net from close-range, unchallenged by Barcelona’s onlooking defense.
Barcelona were able to draw parity in the 35th minute as Ferran Torres took his chance in the starting XI by scoring an equalizer.
Lamine Yamal‘s impressive pass ran into the path of the Spanish forward, who completed the quick counter-attack with a well-struck first-time effort from mere yards out.
Antwerp felt they should have had a penalty on the cusp of half-time when Vermeeren went down inside the box, although the referee waved the game on.
Barcelona’s sloppiness continued after the interval
Vincent Janssen opened the second-half by putting the hosts 2-1 up, or so he thought. The Dutch forward placed the ball into the net, but it was chalked off for offside.
Lamine Yamal hit the crossbar with an effort from outside the penalty area, before Barcelona’s evening looked to take a turn for the worst.
Sergi Roberto was shown a straight red-card for a foul that occurred but had been seen by the on-pitch official, although VAR recommended that it be changed to a yellow card, so Roberto was allowed to stay on the pitch.
Janssen did eventually get his goal on the hour, placing his shot into the Barcelona net, highlighting his good attacking positioning.
The chaos really arrived in the final five minutes of the match as the Belgian side attempted to hold onto their lead, even though it would make no difference to their European aspirations.
Marc Gulu was in the right place at the right time to fire home an equalizer in the 91st minute, although VAR was called to review a potential offside.
Alas, the goal was allowed to stand as no offside was found, but if anything, this delay caused Barcelona to fall back to sleep.
Almost from the resultant kick-off, Jelle Bataille poked the ball into the path of George Ilenikhena after a chaotic melee inside the penalty area.
He was then able to hit a shot without much thought into the net, securing a dramatic victory for the Belgian side and showing Los Cules’ youngsters they have a lot to learn in terms of game-management….CONTINUE READING HERE