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Barcelona buckled under the pressure to suffer awful Anfield nightmare

Barcelona cracked at Anfield to crash out of the Champions League

It was supposed to be a procession.

The night when Lionel Messi and his Barcelona team secured themselves a place in another Champions League final against Ajax or Tottenham Hotspur.

A final they’d be expected to win relatively comfortably and therefore secure an unprecedented third treble in the last decade.

Only they’d not bargained for Jurgen Klopp’s ultra-positive approach. Despite everything being against his Liverpool side, he’d told the media he just wanted his boys to go out and enjoy themselves and play their natural game. No pressure.

Imagine that! No pressure in a Champions League semi-final.

But it was a master stroke from the German. As soon as Divock Origi got the all-important first goal, the Reds settled into the match and the pendulum had already swung.

With Anfield in full voice, and Liverpool playing the second half facing the Kop, there was expectancy amongst the locals that this could be another famous European night.

Barcelona clearly felt it too.

Their passing was off, players looked uncomfortable in possession, and the longer the game went on without a goal from the visitors, Liverpool knew the visitors were there for the taking.

Battle-hardened and up for the fight, the hosts were everything Barcelona were not. Klopp’s managerial master class had allowed his side to express themselves the only way they know how. ‘Rock and roll football,’ and all that.

Ernesto Valverde’s side looked meek by comparison, and in the away dugout their faces told the story. Surely lightning couldn’t strike twice?

Geo

Only it did, and in the most astonishing fashion, with Barcelona’s normally sound defence going to sleep for three second half goals which sealed Liverpool’s passage to the Madrid showpiece on June 1, their second final in succession after Kiev last season.

Playing as they did on Tuesday night, most football watchers will make the Reds heavy favourites to lift the trophy now, though Klopp has his own personal demons to battle having already lost in two Champions League finals to date.

He’s there again though, and Barcelona are not. For that, the Spanish press will be unforgiving and Barcelona will be forensically scrutinised.

Where did it all go wrong? Who is to blame? What is the club’s transfer policy? Does there need to be a root and branch clear out?

So many questions requiring answers, and the extent of the examination will start from the very top and work downwards.

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Josep Maria Bartomeu may well wield the axe in order to save himself, and after such an abject showing, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Basque coach becomes the fall guy.

The supporters are already demanding it, and one can expect the Camp Nou to show their true feelings at the next home game.

The 4-0 loss wasn’t just a season-defining result, it feels like era-defining. A line drawn in the sand that marks a before and after. Some are calling it a watershed moment.

Once the dust settles, then things can be looked at objectively, though it’s hard to believe that any different conclusions to the ones drawn in the immediate aftermath of the game will be forthcoming.