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Below par Barcelona miss chance to qualify after goalless draw with Olympiacos

Below par Barcelona miss chance to qualify after goalless draw with Olympiacos
By Eurosport

31/10/2017 at 22:37Updated 01/11/2017 at 00:56

Stadio Karaiskaki, Champions League Group D - Olympiacos 0-0 Barcelona

Barcelona dropped points for the first time in Group D as they were held to a goalless by bottom-side Olympiacos in Greece.

It proved to be a frustrating affair for the Liga giants on a night when Ernesto Valverde made an emotional return to Olympiacos where he coached during two successful spells between 2008 and 2012.

Luis Suarez’s slump in form continued as the Uruguayan missed a host of chances while Lionel Messi also spurned a gilt-edged opportunity from close range as Olympiacos held on to claim their first point in the group.

Barcelona had won all three of their previous group games and another victory would have sealed their place in the last 16, but Valverde’s side were out of sorts as they struggled to overcome the home side's packed midfield.

Olympiacos defended resolutely and had they been more effective in the final third – they were playing without a natural striker – the Greek champions may have been celebrating a famous victory. Their best chance fell to Kostas Fortounis who couldn’t capitalise from Sergio Busquet’s mis-placed pass.

The result means Barcelona remain top and will have another opportunity to progress when they travel to Turin to play second-placed Juventus on November 22. Barca remain three points clear of the Italian champions, six ahead of Sporting in third and need only a draw to guarantee a runners-up spot.

TALKING POINT: Luis Suarez's struggles continue

The Uruguayan has only scored three goals in 13 appearances this season and while he missed a number of gilt-edged chances, his body language and lack of energy was perhaps more worrying. Suarez’s decision-making also left a lot to be desired. At times it appeared he was trying too hard to get on the scoresheet and in other situations he opted to pass when shooting was the better option. Is it time to give Suarez a rest?

MAN OF THE MATCH: Alberto Botia (Olympiacos)

The former Barcelona centre-back nullified the threat of Lionel Messi quite expertly. The 28-year-old clearly had a point to prove to his former employers.

PLAYER RATINGS

Olympiacos: Proto 7 ; Diogo 6, Botía 8, Engels 7, Koutris 7; Romao 6, Tachtsidis 7; Elabdellaoui 6, Odjidja 6, Carcela 6; Fortounis 6. Subs: Gillet 5, Djurdjevic N/A, Pardo 5.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6, Semedo 6, Umtiti 6, Mascherano 6, Alba 6, Paulinho 6, Busquets 6, Sergi Roberto 5, Denis Suarez 6, Luis Suarez 5, Messi 6. Subs: Deulofeu 6, Andre Gomes 6.

KEY MOMENTS

15’ - PENALTY SHOUT! Umtiti appears to clip Elabdellaoui from behind inside the box, but Anthony Taylor waves play on! Difficult to know if that was the right call...

19’ - GOOD SAVE! A well worked move right off the training ground almost results in an opener for Barca! Denis Suarez picks out Messi with a short corner delivery, the Argentine's shot is deflected but Proto does well to scramble it behind.

22' - MISS! Suarez is released in the box, he tries to poke a shot with the outside of his right foot from a tight angle, but screws the ball wide of the target.

29’ - CLOSE! Busquets gifts possession to the host inside his own half! Olympiacos almost make him pay, too, as the ball is worked to Fortounis who volleys narrowly over from the edge of the penalty area.

62’ - MESSI MISSES! Luis Suarez breaks the penalty area and squares the ball to Messi who somehow pokes the ball wide of the goal from a few yards out!

79' - SO CLOSE! Luis Suarez times his run to perfection to latch onto a long ball from Busquets in defence. He lobs the goalkeeper but the ball lands on top of the roof of the net!

KEY STATS

  • Barcelona failed to score in a Champions League group game for the first time since December 2012 against Benfica (0-0).
  • Luis Suarez attempted more shots without scoring vs Olympiakos than in any other game for Barcelona (all competitions).
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