If Ronald Koeman had chosen to strengthen his central defense with a 3-5-2, his players did not prove him right in a completely failed start to the match. It took hardly three minutes for Nunez, launched on the left, to highlight the shortcomings of a completely passive Catalan rearguard and who watched him transplant towards the heart of the zone of truth and deceive Marc-André Ter Stegen with a small grazing shot at the near post (1-0).
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Guilty on this opening of the score, Eric Garcia and Gérard Piqué also saw Roman Yaremchuk come back very quickly to the charge in the axis and send his shot on the Barcelona goalkeeper (5th). The visitors nevertheless reacted thanks to the inspiration and the activity of Pedri and Frenkie De Jong who competed in his 100th under the Barcelona colors. The first launched the second into the opponent’s area but Luuk De Jong missed the boat before blocking the recovery of his Spanish teammate (10th). The stirring duo also lacked precision in their attempts (11th and 18th).
Overtaken and quickly warned, Pique was replaced very early on by Pablo Gavi and Frenkie De Jong had to replace himself in defense, which clearly harmed the Barcelona offensive animation against Lisboners withdrawn to their camp. The Eagles, however, regained ambitions after the break like Nicolas Otamendi whose heavy long shot was properly captured by Ter Stegen (48th). The German goalkeeper, on the other hand, took an insane risk by going out very far from his surface in front of Nunez who bypassed him before shooting towards the empty goal but his shot ended on the post (52nd).
Still no shot on target for Barça
Faced with the offensive powerlessness of his players despite a favorable ball possession (60% at the break, 58% in the end), Koeman decided to launch Nico Gonzalez, Coutinho and Fati to better support Memphis Depay (66th). These changes did not have time to bear fruit as Benfica signed a second goal moments later through Rafa Silva, on the lookout at the penalty spot after a shot from Joao Mario repelled by Ter Stegen (2-0, 69th).
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Still stunned, the Barcelona then conceded a penalty for a hand from Serginho Dest, uncomfortable right-hander at the left-back position, on a Gilberto header and Nunez transformed it into finesse to spice up the bill (3 -0, 79e). Barça even finished the match at ten after the expulsion of Eric Garcia for a second yellow card (87th). The Catalans will have fired 8 shots in this meeting but, as against Bayern, they did not frame any.
The last La Liga victory over Levante (3-0) was only a decoy. This Barça is definitely sick. He had not lost his first two matches of the season in the European Cup for 49 years and will have to fight to hope to see the knockout stages of the Champions League. Before that, a hot shock against Atlético looms next weekend.
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