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Toothless Barca draw blank at home to Slavia

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By Reuters
Toothless Barca draw blank at home to Slavia
Soccer Football - Champions League - Group F - FC Barcelona v SK Slavia Prague - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - November 5, 2019 SK Slavia Prague's Nicolae Stanciu in action with Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele REUTERS/Albert Gea   -   Copyright  ALBERT GEA(Reuters)

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona’s patchy form continued as they failed to break down a diligent and bold Slavia Prague side and were held to a 0-0 home draw in their Champions League Group F game on Tuesday.

With Luis Suarez injured, Barca lacked a cutting edge and visiting goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar produced an admirable display to shut out the Catalans, thwarting Lionel Messi and Sergi Roberto from close range in the second half.

Messi also struck the top of the post in the first period following a thrilling solo charge from his own half and then teed up Arturo Vidal for a tap-in late in the game but the effort was ruled out for offside against the Argentine.

The Czechs, who were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at home to Barcelona two weeks ago, made a bright start and nearly took an early lead with a heavily deflected shot which was repelled by the Catalans’ goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

They did manage to find the net at the end of the first half but the goal was disallowed for a clear offside.

Barca, who fell to a shock 3-1 defeat at Levante in La Liga on Saturday, lead the section on eight points after four games, while Slavia are bottom with two.

Home defender Gerard Pique did not shy away from criticising his side’s performance at the Nou Camp.

“Playing like this it’s difficult to see us winning the Champions League,” he said.

“We had chances to score but the ball wouldn’t go in. Results aren’t going our way in these last two games, and when you go two games without winning at Barca the fans expect more because expectations are so high.

“Our results aren’t bad, they could be better but we need to maintain calm and try to improve.”

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris)