Barca’s best riposte to off-pitch woes

Barca’s best riposte to off-pitch woes

TURIN • Barcelona’s 2-0 win away to Juventus in the Champions League was the perfect reply to the club’s boardroom crisis, Sergi Roberto said on Wednesday.

The club were rocked when their president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned on Tuesday to avoid facing a vote of no confidence after some 20,000 fans signed a petition demanding that he step down.

“The best answer was today’s game. We want to win titles and matches as we showed today,” said home-grown midfielder Sergi Roberto.

“It’s all in the past, we’re concentrating on our job.”

Coach Ronald Koeman said his team had tried to put the boardroom issue out of their minds.

“I think we have to concentrate on the sporting side,” he said.

“It doesn’t affect us and it doesn’t worry me. We put our energy into football.”

Barcelona have won both their games in the Champions League, a sharp contrast to their La Liga form. They are winless in their last three league games.

“This was our best game all season. This is a big win against an important European side and we were able to play the football we’re trying to impose,” Koeman added.

“It is always important to create chances. We were superior by playing our game. It was the right result.”

Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo missed the clash, two weeks after testing positive for coronavirus.

The Portuguese superstar, 35, could not provide a negative test 24 hours before the game and has reportedly tested positive 18 times.

His great rival Lionel Messi, 33, set up back-in-favour Ousmane Dembele to put Barca in front after a quarter of an hour in Turin, adding a second himself from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

Alvaro Morata had three goals ruled out for offside for Juve, who played the final five minutes a man down after Merih Demiral was sent off for a second yellow card.

Barcelona are top of Group G with six points after two games with Juventus on three. The reverse fixture takes place at the Nou Camp on Dec 8.

It was a first defeat for new Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo, whose last game as a player for the Turin giants was a loss to Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final.

“We knew it would be a difficult game, they are further along the path, they have players more experienced in these games, while we are under construction,” he said.

“We need to grow. I hope to have the other players back soon.

“I have no other solutions, those who play have to stay 90 minutes, so it’s difficult when there are matches close together.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS