When trying to pick apart the reasons for Barcelona’s dismal second leg collapse in the Champions League, could you simply say Roma wanted it more?
Whatever Di Francesco said in the dressing room clearly worked as Roma believed. They ran tirelessly for 90 minutes, harassing the Barca players like rabid wolves at every opportunity and they could not handle it.
Coach Ernesto Valverde didn’t make change for 80 minutes, with Ousmane Dembele and Paco Alcacer only coming on with five minutes remaining.
The night’s other tie saw Liverpool go in in a similar situation, with a 3-0 lead from the first leg against Manchester City. They defended diligently for a half and hit City the moment they eased off.
Looking at score lines Barcelona has walked through most teams in Europe in their way with relative ease. But the performances have told a different tale.
Many thought Barcelona were only in second gear given how frightening we know this side to be on their day.
Nobody but Lionel Messi has scored away in the Champions League since 2016, and the fact that their second top scorer this season is own goals with six goals tells its own tale.
That is not a slight on the Argentine but often those around him. More than ever things in this Barca side run through him and if he has an off night, few others step up in his stead.
Ernesto Valverde is a tactically astute Coach but his overreliance on Messi and failure to adapt when under siege lost his team the match, and consequently the tie.