Ernesto Valverde admitted Barcelona are in a rut after they followed up their La Liga defeat by Levante with a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague on Tuesday in the Champions League.
Lionel Messi hit the crossbar in the first half but that was as close as Barca came during a disjointed display that risks dragging Valverde’s team back into the fight for qualification from Group F.
“The other day we lost against Levante and we know this was not one of our best games either,” Valverde said. “We haven’t been convincing either on Saturday or today and we know there is a lot of pressure now on the team. We have to respond.”
Barcelona play Dortmund at home next and will hope progress is secured before their final game against Inter Milan at the San Siro.
The likelihood is they have already done enough to make the last 16 but Valverde will face scrutiny, this blunt performance coming only three days after his side were beaten 3-1 by Levante in La Liga.
If that loss was defined by three goals conceded in seven mad minutes, this one was far less dramatic, a story of stodgy possession in front of their own fans, whose displeasure made for an increasingly sour atmosphere at Camp Nou.
As a dejected Messi stood with his hands on his hips in the centre circle at the final whistle, not even the blast of the stadium music could drown out the whistles.
“In football today and with teams like ours, it is all about winning and winning emphatically,” Valverde said. “It is never enough. The season begins and there isn’t talk of winning a title, there is talk of winning three or four. So the frustration when you don’t win a game is high.”
Slavia’s players saluted their own supporters like they had pulled off a remarkable upset.
Pique pleads for ‘patience’
After all, this was only the third time in 29 Champions League matches that Barcelona have failed to win at home, the other two against Juventus and Tottenham last season, when the Catalans had already qualified.
Their night was made worse by Jordi Alba being forced off at half-time with a hamstring injury while Gerard Pique’s yellow card means he will be suspended for the game against Dortmund.
“I would ask for a little patience,” added Pique. “We are not playing at the level we expect. We have to improve.”
Slavia’s pace in attack caused Barcelona problems in the first 45 minutes, which for the home side was illuminated only by the occasional moment from Messi.