TOP 5 Barca: Champions League disaster in Roma, Valverde, Rakitic, Semedo, Luis Suarez

Valverde: 'We never felt comfortable' |

Valverde: “We never felt comfortable in the game because Roma played very well” he said. “And we couldn’t get our own game going. Di Francesco’s side were aggressive and able to generate precisely the kind of pressure that we find so hard to deal with. They took risks and we couldn’t cope with all that deep pressing. The first goal gave them strength and then they got a second and third in the second half.”

“I feel sorry for the fans” he concluded. “It’s been a huge disappointment for them. But now we just have to focus on the competitions that we have left. We have to keep looking ahead.”

Why Valverde is responsible for Barcelona's Champions League elimination | Barcablog

Barcelona are out the Champions League after being deservedly eliminated by Roma after losing 3-0 in the Stadio Olimpico. The Catalans' inability to take advantage of their 4-1 victory in the first leg is utterly unacceptable, especially given the huge amount of talent, experience in their squad and how solid the team had proven to be so far this season. Not even, Messi or Luis Suarez, who have scored plenty of goals of late, were able to come to the rescue this time.

As we discussed in the latest The Barcelona Podcast, Valverde's refusal to rotate key players despite having an 11 point gap at the top of La Liga was a recipe for disaster. The manager's inability to prevent key players from burning out has been a concern for a number of weeks but, in Roma, the evidence could not have been any clearer. Unfortunately, the embarrassing way in which Barca crashed out of the Champions League proved our worse fears right far earlier than anticipated. You should definitely listen to the pod, which can access right here.

Barcelona's players and coach have no answer to deserving Roma | ESPN

For anyone mourning Barcelona's limp, uncompetitive exit from the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage against Roma, there is some bitter consolation: There was no doubt whatsoever, across two matches, that the more deserving side advanced.

There will be many who argue that the elimination was due to the "Barca disease," which is that, unless they actually win the competition, then it's normally this stage that does them in. Since 2014, they've wilted four times in the last eight.

How Valverde channelled his inner Unai Emery to get Barcelona knocked out of the Champions League | Squawka

This represents the third successive quarter-final exit for the Blaugrana, but unlike the last two where they faced sides on their level, here they had drawn an inferior Roma team and blew them away 4-1 in the first leg. This was a breakaway layup, to mix sporting metaphors for a moment, and somehow Barcelona managed to miss.

Well, “somehow” is a bit disingenuous, as it’s clear Barcelona lost this tie because of decisions made by Ernesto Valverde. Let’s be clear, the Basque coach has done incredible work this season at the Camp Nou. He’s stabilised a wobbling side and with a squad seriously lacking in attacking talent has them well clear (and undefeated) at the top of La Liga and into the Copa del Rey final, integrating two January signings (injury essentially reduced Dembele to this) in the process. He’s made sure Barca’s season hasn’t just been good, but great.

The five keys to Barcelona's embarrassing night in Rome | Sport

1 - An overused, ageing team

Ernesto Valverde has repeated the same lineup in recent games, using the same base and demanding his regulars play every three days. Hardly any players have been afforded rests, with the majority of the spine either older than 30 or nearing 30. Barça have always struggled to rejuvenate themselves, prisoners of their success of the past, and this season has been no different.

2 - No confidence in the bench of the signings

Only one player signed last summer started in Rome: Nelson Semedo. Philippe Coutinho can't play in the Champions League, Paulinho's role has become more limited and Ousmane Dembele's still finding himself at the club. Barça lacked depth and flexibility to change the direction of the match. There's no Plan B and when there is it is not enough, urgent and improvised. The lack quality substitutes and the signings have not helped the team's demands.

Rakitic set for surgery on fractured finger as Barcelona woe continues | Goal

There was more bad news for the Catalan club as they revealed the midfielder broke his finger in Tuesday's defeat to Roma, requiring surgery. Rakitic will have to undergo surgery to correct the issue and is to have the procedure on Wednesday.