Barcelona were ripped apart as they conceded three goals in an eight-minute span in the second half by Levante in a 3-1 defeat Saturday afternoon at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia.
Lionel Messi had the Catalans ahead at the break via the penalty spot, but three goals between minutes 60 and 68 turned the match on its head, giving Levante the three points.
For Barcelona, it was a flat performance and will surely bring a new wave of criticism for head coach Ernesto Valverde.
The Barcelona boss made some changes to his back line, with Sergi Roberto coming in at right-back, while Semedo was switched to left-back, Arturo Vidal got the nod again in midfield, while the MSG of Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann formed the attack.
It was a fairly even first half hour between the teams, with the best Barcelona chance being a Griezmann effort, but soon enough the visitors would get the first goal.
A pass from Arthur Melo found the running Semedo on the left flank, thanks in part to a Griezmann dummy, and it was an easy penalty call from referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez when Jorge Miramon clattered into the Portuguese full-back.
Up stepped Messi to take the penalty and it was a cool finish into the net for a 0-1 lead.There was some controversy to the goal, however, as moments before the penalty call, Semedo had played a pass to an offside Griezmann, however the flag stayed down and VAR confirmed the penalty. Valverde then had to go to his bench sooner than expected as a thigh injury forced Suarez off the pitch, with Carles Perez taking his place.
The visitors almost snuck in a second goal before the break when a wonderfully worked build-up ended with a shot that rebounded right in front of Messi, but the Argentine could not slip a shot past Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez and the ball was cleared off the line by Miramon.
Barcelona were sloppy to start the second half and lacked any type of cohesion or spark, leaving the door wide open for Levante. The hosts began their blitzing of Barcelona right on the hour mark, when a giveaway in the Barcelona half led to Jose Campana burying a chance to make it 1-1.
Three minutes later Campana got to play the role of playmaker, filtering a pass into Borja Mayoral, and the finish must have been extra sweet for the Real Madrid loanee, who curled a shot home to earn Levante a 2-1 lead.Barcelona were a complete wreck, so Valverde went his bench and brought on Sergio Busquets for Arturo Vidal, followed by Ansu Fati for Arthur.
Levante weren’t done putting the Catalonians to the sword, though, and when Barcelona failed to clear a free-kick, Nemanja Radoja sent a shot goalward that deflected off of Busquets’ leg and past Aitor to make it 3-1.
Barcelona thought they had cut the gap to one through Messi, but Griezmann was ruled offside prior to playing a one-two combination with the Argentine. It was the closest they would come to goal the rest of the way, slumping to another poor display away from home.