You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Valverde leaves Barcelona: Five games where it went wrong

Goal.com logo Goal.com 13/01/2020 Liam Blackburn

Replay Video
(Video by Perform)

Given he delivered back-to-back LaLiga titles and left Barcelona still at the summit, Ernesto Valverde's departure appears perplexing on the surface.

There has been no great decline to speak of, no obvious player revolt and no boardroom bickering.

Why then have the Blaugrana opted to part ways with their head coach and replace him with Quique Setien, a man who could only lead Real Betis to a 10th-place finish last term?

We have taken a look at the five games which might have ultimately resulted in Valverde's exit.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Ernesto Valverde during Barcelona's 4-0 loss at Liverpool © Getty Images Ernesto Valverde during Barcelona's 4-0 loss at Liverpool

Roma 3-0 Barcelona. Champions League quarter-final second leg. April 10, 2018.

After being beaten in both legs of the Supercopa de Espana by Real Madrid to begin his reign, things picked up for Valverde, who enjoyed a 36-match unbeaten run at the beginning of the 2017-18 LaLiga campaign.

However, two and a half weeks before that title triumph was sealed, Barcelona were stunned in Europe.

Soccer Football - Spanish Super Cup - FC Barcelona Training - Ittihad F.C. Training Centre, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - January 8, 2020   Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde with the players during training   REUTERS/Sergio Perez © Thomson Reuters Soccer Football - Spanish Super Cup - FC Barcelona Training - Ittihad F.C. Training Centre, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - January 8, 2020 Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde with the players during training REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Valverde's side were in control of the tie having beaten the Serie A side 4-1 at home, but Roma became only the third side in Champions League history to overturn a first-leg deficit of three goals or more.

Greek defender Kostas Manolas scored the crucial third goal eight minutes from time as Roma went through on away goals and Valverde suffered his first, but not last, European humiliation.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona. Champions League semi-final second leg. May 7, 2019.

Fast forward a year and a case of deja vu, with Barca sitting pretty on a 3-0 first-leg lead in their last-four tie against Liverpool.

The Reds were without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the return fixture at Anfield, where Divock Origi's early goal only gave them a sliver of hope.

FC Barcelona's coach Ernesto Valverde leaves Joan Gamper training camp in Barcelona, Spain January 13, 2020.  REUTERS/Albert Gea © Thomson Reuters FC Barcelona's coach Ernesto Valverde leaves Joan Gamper training camp in Barcelona, Spain January 13, 2020. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Yet Barca looked shell-shocked as Georginio Wijnaldum's double was followed up by another Origi strike, Liverpool incredibly progressing to a final they would win.

Described in the Spanish press as a "debacle", "tragedy" and "historic failure", the writing seemed to be on the wall for Valverde from that point.

Barcelona 1-2 Valencia. Copa del Rey final. May 25, 2019. 

Not even a second LaLiga title could silence Valverde's doubters, who had more ammo when his team lost to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.

Valverde had hoped a victory would ease the pain of the Liverpool loss but Barca were stunned again, Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo putting Valencia 2-0 ahead before Lionel Messi pulled one back.

Rather than wield the axe, though, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu absolved Valverde of blame for the result.

  Barcelona's head coach Ernesto Valverde reacts during the Spanish Super Cup semifinal soccer match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at King Abdullah stadium in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) © ASSOCIATED PRESS Barcelona's head coach Ernesto Valverde reacts during the Spanish Super Cup semifinal soccer match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at King Abdullah stadium in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona. LaLiga. January 4, 2020.

Away defeats to Athletic Bilbao, Granada and Levante would have looked costlier had the champions' nearest rivals Real Madrid not stumbled along themselves in the first half of this season.

Both teams' struggles were evident in a 0-0 Clasico draw at Camp Nou in December, but it was Barcelona's first result back after the mid-season break that would have set more alarm bells ringing.

Derby rivals Espanyol were bottom of the table and had not beaten Barca in LaLiga since 2009 but Frenkie de Jong was sent off as the strugglers claimed a 2-2 draw.

Barcelona's head coach Ernesto Valverde sits on the bench prior the Spanish Super Cup semifinal soccer match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at King Abdullah stadium in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) © ASSOCIATED PRESS Barcelona's head coach Ernesto Valverde sits on the bench prior the Spanish Super Cup semifinal soccer match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at King Abdullah stadium in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Barcelona 2-3 Atletico Madrid. Supercopa de Espana semi-final. January 9, 2020.

Five days later and it got even worse for Valverde and Barcelona.

Leading 2-1 in Saudi Arabia with nine minutes to go, the Blaugrana collapsed again late on, with Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa sending Atletico through to a final against their cross-city rivals Madrid.

It meant Barcelona had won just one of their previous five games, a sour note to end on for Valverde.

Gallery: Read latest football gossip (ReadSport)

MSN UK is committed to Empowering the Planet and taking urgent action to protect our environment against the climate crisis. We’re supporting those on the front line tackling the Australian bushfire crisis. Find out more about our campaign here.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Goal.com

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon