Barcelona loses to Ajax after 28 matches undefeatedNovember 27, 2013
With Barcelona already sure of their place in the knockout stage of the Champions League, last night’s result was always going to be pretty much irrelevant to them despite the club’s stated intention of playing to win. However, with a number of key players still absent through injury, including Leo Messi, Dani Alves and Victor Valdes, Martino was forced to field an under strength squad.
An under-strength Barça is still world class though and so it was almost a shock to see how much control Ajax were able to exert, clearly dominating from the start. In fact it was surprising to see that at one point Barcelona had just 45% possession; often it is 70% even against titans such as Real Madrid. In the end it was no great surprise when Ajax scored the opener after 18 minutes, which had the effect of spurring the Catalans on and Neymar coming close to equalising, but it was the Dutch side that scored again after a Pinto deflection allowed a second chance to go in.
Back on after the break Neymar had a good chance at goal, only to be brought down in the area. With Veltan shown a red for his efforts, Xavi scored from the penalty spot and playing against 10 men possession shifted slightly in Barça’s favour. However, they just weren’t able to do quite enough and in the countdown to the final whistle Martino elected to bring on some youngsters.
1-0 Serero (min 18)
2-0 Hoesen (min 41)
2-1 Xavi (min 49)
While the result makes no real difference to Barcelona, having already ensured their place in the next round, the loss follows an run of 28 matches undefeated for Barça. On the other hand it was positive news for Ajax, although they must beat Milan for a place in the last 16.