Fresh off a narrow 1-0 victory against Real Sociedad, Barcelona made the trip to Volksparkstadion in Germany to take on their UEFA Champions League Group H opponents Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night (November 7). On paper, it seemed like a straightforward win for the lofty visitors, but Shakhtar were in no mood to follow the script. They scored the only goal of the game to clinch a memorable 1-0 victory over the Blaugrana on Champions League Matchday 4, marking their first win over Barca after suffering four defeats.
Lackluster Barcelona Fail To Guarantee Champions League Progression
Barcelona started decently, carving their first opening in the 10th minute. Former Manchester City man Ilkay Gundogan was afforded space just outside the area, allowing him to have a go at the top-right corner of Shakhtar’s goal. The German’s curling effort was noteworthy, but it narrowly sailed over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Shakhtar left-back Mykola Matviyenko burst into the Barca box and drew a fine save from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
In the 40th minute, Shakhtar broke the deadlock against the run of play. Right-back Giorgo Gocholeishvili exploited the space on the right wing to whip a dangerous cross into the box. Center-forward Danylo Sikan met the fullback’s delivery with aplomb, heading it past Ter Stegen and into the top-right corner.
Barcelona improved in the second half, but they lacked the end product. In the latter stages, they appealed for a handball and a penalty, but the VAR refused to rule in the visiting team’s favor. Overall, the Camp Nou outfit had 13 shots, but only one of those was on target. They also created just one big chance as opposed to Shakthar’s three.
Xavi’s side needed to avoid defeat on Matchday 4 to guarantee a place in the Round Of 16. They are still massive favorites to move into the next round as group winners, but such a setback has left a bitter taste in the coach’s mouth.
Xavi Says Barcelona Played One Of Their Worst Games Under His Tenure Against Shakhtar
Speaking at a post-match press conference, Xavi said it was one of Barcelona’s worst performances in the last two years, adding that his team deserved to drop all three points against Shakhtar.
The Spanish tactician said (via ESPN):
“We deserved to lose. We have to be honest, we played badly and nothing we had planned came off.
“The level of our performances is really low at the moment. This was one of the worst games of my two years in charge. We have to be self-critical.”
“There was a reaction in the second half but it wasn’t enough. This competition demands your best and we were not at it today. It is clear a step back.
“We are angry. Confidence has dropped, we are in a bit of a rut and we need a reset.”
The Blaugrana, who are in third place in La Liga standings, will return to action with a clash against Alaves on Sunday (November 12).