Barcelona’s players and coach have no answer to deserving Roma


For anyone mourning Barcelona’s limp, uncompetitive exit from the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage against Roma, there is some bitter consolation: nfl shop jerseys authentic 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.

What knits those painful experiences together is the sight of a talented, ambitious team reaching — time and again — for the gear lever, yet failing to get out of first. Ripped apart in Rome. Bullied, badly, in Turin last year. Impotent in 2014 and 2016 defeats to Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.

Iniesta’s contract dictates that he has until April 31 each season to inform the club whether he is automatically renewing his deal, or if he wishes to leave. When he left the pitch, close to the end and with the result already evident to anyone, who understands football or human psychology, there was at least that “Hail Mary” chance that someone would score the away goal to put Barcelona through.

But as I saw how disconsolate Iniesta was, it became clear that he walked off fully aware that these might well be the painful last minutes of a great love affair. “It’s a possibility,” he admitted when someone asked whether this might have been his final European experience with the team he has inspired for so many years.

In purely football terms, it is as heartbreaking as Roma’s absolutely admirable tactical, athletic and sporting performance is uplifting. They picked up the thread that was left dangling at the Camp Nou and which read: “This is the path to the semifinals.”

I’ve been at matches like this before. In 2004, Deportivo La Coruna cheekily took the lead at the San Siro before reigning European champions Milan cuffed them 4-1. shop nfl jerseys online Throughout the first-leg defeat, though, it was clear the Spaniards were being betrayed by the score. So it was that return game ended in a devastating 4-0 win for Depor.