Barcelona squandered several key chances in a match they were widely expected to win, being held to a 0-0 UEFA Europa League (UEL) draw by Galatasaray, who put in a great defensive display to exorcise the ghosts of a 6-0 defeat suffered on their last trip to Spain.
Despite Barcelona’s possession dominance, their lack of cutting edge was there for all to see, with the final ball letting Xavi’s men down on several occasions during the opening half. The first goalkeeper to be called into action was unsurprisingly Iñaki Peña, who leapt across his goal to beat Memphis Depay’s fierce free-kick away to safety. The best chance of an otherwise drab first half fell to Galatasary though. Muhammed Kerem Aktürkoğlu broke free down the left, stepped inside two Barcelona defenders and curled an effort onto the roof of the Barcelona goal.
Adama Traore spurned a glorious chance to fire Barcelona ahead in this first-leg UEL Round of 16 encounter, when he had the freedom of the Camp Nou in the Galatasaray box, but his touch let him down and he was drowned out by Galatasaray bodies. It wasn’t all glorious defending from the Turkish giants though, some statuesque defending just moments later left Sergio Busquets unmarked in the box, but his header was spectacularly tipped over by Peña.
Jordi Alba came even closer for the hosts, volleying a hair’s width wide from the edge of the area to take Barcelona’s frustrations to a new high. Frenkie de Jong was next to try his luck, prodding goalwards following some Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang acrobatics, but even the upright wasn’t playing ball with Barcelona. Galatasaray then thought they had snatched a ludicrous victory through Bafétimbi Gomis, but the offside flag cut-short the Turkish delight.
Barcelona’s unbeaten run now stands at nine games, although a 0-0 draw will provoke a lot of soul searching in the next seven days. Meanwhile, Galatasaray won’t be worried about the fact they are still yet to beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and there will be everything to play for in the second leg, as the Turkish club aim for their first major European triumph in 22 years.