Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona has two faces. A safe and reliable, Ter Stegen has a strength in the League (seven goals conceded in 21 games); while, when he moves to Europe, the Catalans become a weak and doubtful team: they have conceded 14 goals in seven games, 12 in the Champions League group stage and two yesterday in the Europa League round of 32 against the United. In the Barcelona Sports City they had a diagnosis. “When we were out of the Champions League we had our best central defenders injured,” they explained from the Barcelona organization chart, referring to the losses of Kounde, Araujo and Christensen against Inter in the group stage. Against Manchester United, in any case, Xavi had Araujo and Kounde and opted to rest the Dane Christensen (he came onto the field in the second half). Barcelona, however, suffered again at the rear.
Ter Stegen, Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Alba (Alex Balde, min. 67), Marcos Alonso (A. Christensen, min. 66), Raphinha (Ferran Torres, min. 82), Pedri (Sergi Roberto, min. 41), Gavi, Kessie Franck (Ansu Fati, min. 66), Frenkie De Jong and Lewandowski
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Tyrell Malacia, Varane, Shaw, Jadon Sancho (Alejandro Garnacho, min. 81), Casemiro, Fred, Wouter Weghorst, Bruno Fernandes and Rashford
goals 1-0 min. 49: Marcos Alonso. 1-1 min. 52: Rashford. 1-2 min. 58: Kounde (pp). 2-2 min. 76: Raphinha.
Referee Maurizio Mariani
Yellow cards Alba (min. 30), Varane (min. 43), Casemiro (min. 65), Tyrell Malacia (min. 72) and Gavi (min. 73)
“They squeeze you well. It took us a bit to get the ball out, but the pressure after the loss has been good. United have great footballers, who choose well”, analyzed Xavi. “We knew that United is a team that likes to have the ball, but also likes home and away games. They pushed us a little more”, reflected Sergi Roberto. This time, Barcelona’s problem was not in the last line but in the center of the field. Pedri asked for the change in the first half and Barca broke up after going through the changing rooms.
The canary is alone in Barcelona. It is at least for Xavi Hernandez. When the transfer market closed last summer, the Barca coach assured that he would have liked one more player. And, although he did not publicly mention any name, the coaching staff claimed that the footballer the Barca coach wanted was Bernardo Silva. But City, who showed a good predisposition to negotiate the transfers of Ferran Torres and Eric Garcia half a year earlier, were less flexible in the case of the Portuguese. Basically, the English club was not, according to Barca, willing to negotiate. So, Xavi was left without Bernardo Silva. That is to say, he was left without a player profile like Pedri. A headache for technicians.
“He is the only player on the squad who has the ability to make the last pass,” they say from the booth. Neither Busquets’ injury, nor Dembele’s, Xavi’s two right eyes in the squad, create the void that Pedri’s loss meant. “I spoke to him halfway through. He told me it was something in the quadriceps. Pedri is essential for us. Let’s hope it won’t be long”, Sergi Roberto pointed out about the injury to the Canarian midfielder. Pedri’s pain was added to Raphinha’s anger. The Brazilian, one of Barcelona’s most dangerous weapons (he scored the second goal), could not contain his anger when he was replaced. “I perfectly understand the anger. I was also angry. I do it for the good of the team. Rafa has come to apologize, but he doesn’t have to do it, ”explained Xavi.
No problems with Raphinha, satisfied with the attitude of his players —”We have competed well,” said the coach—, Xavi points to Old Trafford: “No fight and now Manchester to try to pass.” Raphinha will surely be angry, what Xavi doesn’t know is if he can count on Pedri, his irreplaceable player. Gavi, sanctioned, will not be at the Theater of Dreams.
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Source: EL PAIS