BARCELONA (Jordi Blanco, correspondent) – Barcelona must beat Bayern, in Munich, if they want to secure a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League. He will have to do his homework on the last day after being unable to beat Benfica in a Camp Nou delivered from start to finish and depressed when the game ended as it started: 0-0 and his future more in the air than ever.
The Barça team deserved by game to win, which proposed a clear and recognizable game, which never lost faith but suffered, again, from scoring. His biggest deficit was his biggest conviction. He didn’t score, he didn’t win, and he was stunned. And collapsed.
The morale of Barcelona was relaunched, from the dressing room to the stands, due to Xavi’s optimistic and daring speech, not even the rain prevented the Camp Nou from being, despite the scarce half-inning (48 thousand fans), a pot under pressure and that Barça entered the game with enormous hunger. High pressure, open game, surprise with the offensive scheme, speed in the combination … And deficit in the auction. There are ills so well known that they seem impossible to overcome.
Barça searched with as much determination as inconsistency the goal of Vlachodimos, who was put to the test by Jordi Alba, a false winger, setting up a quick counter in what was the first Barça chance, touching half an hour and before in just a minute the Benfica freeze the blood of Barcelona.
First Ter Stegen saved with his legs a header from Yaremchuk at the exit of a corner and almost immediately afterwards Otamendi released a shell that entered the goal … and that was not a goal because in the corner kick in which the play was born the parable of the ball had left the field.
The scare was there. A cold head and a warm heart demanded a game that with each passing minute turned into a war of nerves, with Benfica settled, avoiding panic, and Barça with despair on their heels. And the luck of back when brushing the rest the crossbar avoided the goal of Demir in a fantastic shot of thread.
A second part, definitive, was already understood then, with the nerves to the surface. It cost the Barça team to be seen and Jorge Jesús tried to change the script by giving Darwin Núñez entry to stop the offensive momentum of the Barça defenders, to which Xavi responded almost immediately with the staging of Dembélé, the crystal genius who , received with honors, was to throw the balance off balance.
It took him just two minutes to do it for the first time, winning the baseline and centering perfectly so that Vlachodimos responded to Frenkie de Jong’s header and Jorge Jesús, the Lisbon coach, understood that the final half hour could become an exercise desperate resistance to the overwhelming attack expected from Barça.
But it was for one reason or another, Xavi’s team continued without losing its head, attacking with patience and only breaking for speed through the internships by Dembélé’s band … Determined but without showing symptoms of hysteria, he tried it all the ways Barça, who even had a goal annulled, Araújo, offside when the clock, minute 83, was already burning.
Now without more time, and with nothing to do, the outcome was dramatic. The last eight minutes, with the four of prolongation, were a will and not be able to for Barça, almost as broken physically as morally and which was even saved from defeat by a huge error by Seferović …
It was almost the least, almost. Because the depression with which the tie was received was period. As it is, or will be or would be, the elimination that is so much suspected.