Sports, Football

Barcelona thumped by Benfica


By AFP
Published : 30 Sep 2021 08:16 PM | Updated : 01 Oct 2021 03:32 PM

Barcelona suffered more European humiliation on Wednesday after a 3-0 defeat by Benfica left them in serious danger of failing to make it out of their Champions League group.

A hammering in Lisbon, which saw Darwin Nunez score twice, including a second-half penalty, also delivered another heavy blow to Ronald Koeman's hopes of staying on as Barca coach.

Read more: Barcelona ‘gutted’ at earliest European exit in 14 years

Nunez’s double and a smart finish from Rafa Silva consigned Koeman’s team to a second consecutive 3-0 loss in Group E, after they were thrashed by the same scoreline at the hands of Bayern Munich earlier this month.

Koeman’s tactics will again come under scrutiny, with Gerard Pique substituted after just 33 minutes, seemingly to avoid picking up another yellow card, only for Eric Garcia to be sent off late on for a second booking.

Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona’s most creative player for the first half an hour, was also shifted into central defence to replace the departing Pique.

It is the first time since 2000 that Barcelona have lost back-to-back group games in the Champions League, which was also the last time the club failed to make the tournament’s knock-out stage.

Read more: Barcelona sign Depay

They have a mountain to climb now to avoid the same fate, sitting bottom of the table, with Benfica four points ahead in second and a crunch game at home to Dynamo Kiev to come next month.

“The easiest thing is to look at the coach but we are all responsible,” Sergio Busquets said. “We are in a critical situation. We have only played two games but we have zero points. We have two games against Dynamo and we have to win both.”