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How squad depth issues have cost Barcelona


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As Roma revel in one of their most famous nights, there is plenty of soul-searching within the Barcelona ranks after their 3-0 loss in last night's Champions League quarter final second leg.

A 3-0 loss at the Stadio Olimpico means Barca have exited the competition at the quarter final stage in three of the past four seasons - they triumphed in 2015 - and although they essentially have the La Liga title wrapped up and have an excellent chance of a domestic double, there is concern all round about their elite European status.

The BBC's Andy West joined Joe and Kevin on the show to reflect on the challenge for Barcelona.  

West touched on one of the interpretations that Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde "doesn't like his bench options".

"He had no controlling midfielder. A big part of that was that Sergio Busquets was a way from full fitness and had only played an hour of football in the last month so it was a gamble to play him and he's so important to them. He was being swamped last night and he's not that kind of player anyway and when he's below fitness, he's even more liable to be physically dominated," said West.

Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League quarter final match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona at the Olympic stadium on April 10, 2018 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

"But Valverde had Paulinho on the bench, who's very much a physical type player with added power. He had a couple of more creative midfielders like Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez but he didn't trust any of those options and that was quite startling really that he had options that he didn't take and that shows that he doesn't trust them. But even though he doesn't trust them, he could have got a lot more out of his team by changing something."

As West pointed out, some of the key players like Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez are ageing and given the lack of squad depth, means they cannot be rested regularly.

"Barcelona for a few years now haven't had that strength in depth and what it does is catch up with you particularly at this time of year because your key players are tired," said West, contrasting that with Real Madrid's better depth.

On the future of Valverde and emphasising how he is still on course for an Invincible season in La Liga, he added, "I don't think he's done. I think it depends on what happens in the next few weeks". 

West also feels midfield improvements are needed most urgently for Barcelona.


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