While Barcelona did manage to hold Borussia Dortmund to a goalless draw, it is clear that the Spanish giants are not their usual selves at the moment.
In what was definitely a poor defensive performance from Barcelona, Ter Stegen ensured that his side’s opening Champions League game of the season didn’t start with a loss.
The reigning Spanish champions were lucky to come away with a point at the Signal Iduna Park and need to thank Borussia Dortmund for being woeful in front of goal.
On a night where Champions League winners Liverpool suffered a 2-0 loss to Napoli and Europa League winners Chelsea lost at home to Valencia, Barcelona were at least able to avoid a defeat. However, the draw should look like a defeat given how bad they were overall.
It was ter Stegen’s save to deny Marco Reus from the spot that ensured Ernesto Valverde of a decent start to the European campaign.
However, the result should not distract us from the fact that this is a Barcelona team that really needs to make amends for two consecutive shameful Champions league exits. First it was Roma and then it was Liverpool.
And the result in Germany raises further doubts over the team’s credential as genuine contenders for the trophy this season.
Away form is being quite a problem for Barcelona who have won just once in their past eight Champions League away games.
Valverde admitted that his team just didn’t do enough to dominate the game.
“We had to suffer a lot, especially after the break when we lost control and they were very dangerous,” Valverde said. “We have to thank Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his outstanding saves. We know we have to improve away from home.”
That Lionel Messi was forced to start the game from the bench could be taken as one reason why the team was out of ideas but then again, there will be times when their star player might not be available.
The first half performance was abject to say the least and paints a rather glum outlook to the future. Even when he was introduced for the last 30 minutes of the game, the Argentine was unable to make any influence on proceedings.
Barcelona were lucky once again when a Julian Brandt strike shook the crossbar in the dying embers of the game.
Thanks to Ter Stegen, Barcelona at least have something to show for their uninspiring display.
Changes are definitely needed in the coming months. At 32, Luis Suarez isn’t his usual sprightly self on a consistent basis anymore while Ansu Fati needs time to find his feet. Antoine Griezmann is yet to come with the goods.
Arthur is great when it comes to passing from one side to another but his penetration is something that really needs to improve.
Frenkie de Jong meanwhile, is too young to be considered to influence games so early in his Barcelona career.
All in all, this isn’t a team that will win the European trophy this season.