Barca’s fragility casts doubts on CL credentials

Madrid: They may be one of Europe’s most devastating teams at their best but another collapse in La Liga last weekend has shown Barcelona can be a soft touch.
Their 3-1 defeat by Levante on Saturday reopened old wounds from Anfield and Rome and suggests they have not learned from either of those collapses. Levante scored three times in seven minutes after half-time exposing Barcelona’s inability to regroup during a spell of intense pressure — a familiar weakness since coach Ernesto Valverde came to the helm in 2017.
Most clubs in Europe would gladly take winning two league titles and a Copa del Rey in that time but Barcelona are a team concerned with details, the small margins that could define a good season or a great one.
Barca play Slavia Prague on Tuesday in the Champions League, when victory at Camp Nou against Group F’s weakest team will ensure the frustration and failings from Levante swiftly fade.
But fragility persists that can be exposed by elite opponents when it matters most, as Roma and then Liverpool so emphatically proved in the last two Champions League campaigns, when three-goal first-leg leads were squandered by the Catalan giants. Barcelona have shown they lack steel when they are uncomfortable, not least away from home, where their record under Valverde has been disappointing.
In Valverde’s three seasons, they have won only 25 out of 44 league matches on the road. By comparison, Manchester City have won 35 out of 44. In the Champions League Barca have only won five out of 13 away games.
A habit for conceding in streaks, which resurfaced at the City of Valencia Stadium, is also nothing new. Since the start of last season, Barcelona have shipped two goals within 15 minutes on seven occasions, six of them away from the Camp Nou.
This after they threw away a 4-1 lead in 2018 to lose to Roma in the Champions League quarter-finals, and 3-0 lead to Liverpool in the semi-finals earlier this year. (AFP)

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