Opinion The opinion of Luis F. Rojo
Every away trip is torture for Barcelona. This was the case at the end of last season and at the start of this one. Without the backing of the Camp Nou, Ernesto Valverde‘s team dissolve like a sugar cube in a coffee when they visit tough teams that press high and intensely. This was the case away at Osasuna in Pamplona on Saturday. A newly promoted side took apart Barcelona in the first 45 minutes. The absences of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are no excuse for their lack of intensity.
Barcelona don’t know right now what to do away from their stadium. There is another kind of Barcelona team, as was most obviously seen at Anfield. The team is overcome by the strength of their hosts and they become a team that wander around making errors.
This isn’t a one-off. Saturday wasn’t a bad day at the office. There have been too many matches in which Valverde‘s team play poorly on the road. They haven’t won any of their past six official matches away from the Camp Nou. There was Liverpool, Valencia in Seville in the Copa del Rey final and the first halves away at Athletic Club and Osasuna. They even struggled against Celta Vigo and Eibar towards the end of last season. Conceding the opening goal has become such a problem on the road.
Focussing on this season, there is a need to reflect on the problems away from home. Gerard Pique suggested after the Osasuna draw that the result could serve as a wake-up call, but the same mistakes were committed at El Sadar as had been committed on other trips. There were defensive lapses, a lack of pressing, uninvolved signings and a lack of connection between the positions. Five points have been dropped in Bilbao and Pamplona already. That’s too many after just three weeks.