There appear to be many reasons for Tuesday’s setback, but essentially, five key points influenced the game against Ajax.
Numerous absences unbalanced the Catalans
Barcelona arrived in Amsterdam haunted by injuries and suspensions in every position: Keeper Victor Valdés, who was on fire lately, was missing. Injuries to Alves, and Jordi Alba left only one full-back for Barca to field. Messi is irreplaceable and Adriano, who has been on a great run in front of goal, was suspended.
A lack of possession in the first half
Barcelona is a team, which needs to hold the ball for long periods in order to create their magic. The Catalans struggle to get a grip on the game when the opposition plays well.
The Dutch team’s relentless pressure forced FC Barcelona into playing long balls. With midfield maestro Xavi closely marked, teammates took over the responsibility for circulating the ball, although it did not always end up where they wanted.
Barca had already qualified
For most of the match, it looked as though Ajax was playing for its life, whilst the Catalans had nothing to play for. They lacked ambition and character, especially throughout the first half. Cesc Fabregas said after the match that the team “lacked hunger and intensity”. Gerard Piqué chimed in and said “it was horrible” and the team “lacked attitude”.
Ajax was not put under pressure when they broke with the ball
Barca lacked aggressiveness when trying to break up the Dutch side’s play
However, Ajax appeared much more focused and did not mess around when cutting out any danger from Barcelona. Finally, Martino’s team looked like a deer in the headlights in midfield, completely unable to play its usual passing game that everyone is accustomed to seeing.
Meanwhile Real Madrid seems to be doing alright without CR7 as the whites spanked Turkish outfit Galatasaray by 4 goals to 1. Manchester United had a great game too against German side Bayer Leverkusen who they spanked 0-5. Bad news though for Spanish side Real Sociedad. They lost to Ucranian side Shakhtar Donetsk by 4 goals to nil and say farewell to the Champions League.