Eamon Dunphy believes that Barcelona were “strolling” in their 2-0 victory over Celtic, but fears their chances in the Champions League could be undone by tiredness.
Leo Messi scored in either half at Celtic Park to ensure Brendan Rodgers’ side won’t have any European football to look forward to after Christmas.
The Catalans top Group C on 12 points and while the RTÉ analyst said the Spanish giants were “strolling for most of the game”, he believes players such as Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomes are inferior to the players they have replaced and can envisage problems ahead against superior opposition.
“Roberto at right-back is a weakness I think and they will have to deal with that,” he said. “I’m not sure they have the zip and the will to do the pressing game they once did.”
“I detect a certain weariness in Messi’s body language. I’m watching him most weeks in Spain with a certain kind of weariness.
Eamon Dunphy detects a "wearniess" from Barcelona and Leo Messi https://t.co/3lntHz9f8u— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) November 23, 2016
“I think he’s had massive issues off the field and so has Neymar with tax issues.
“He’s refused to renew his contract which has 18 months to run and there’s been talk of him leaving Barcelona.
“The word is that he is leaving because he is hurt and upset at the tax fine...he might go to Manchester City.”
Luis Enrique’s side bowed out at the quarter-final last season to Atletico Madrid and Dunphy believes they could be picked off again in the competition.
“I certainly detect a certain weariness in the team over the last six to nine months.
“It will be really interesting when they get up against the big guns , if there are any big guns in this competition.”
Eamon Dunphy on the "sad" decline of Celtic football club https://t.co/WQwkrlO5J8— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) November 23, 2016
Dunphy added that it was sad that a club of Celtic's "marvellous history" wasn't competitive in the Champions League but backed Brendan Rodgers' efforts to rebuild them.
"I think he deserves great credit, he's done a good job in a very tough group.
"They're playing in a vacuum. There's no-one else in the league. It's very hard to maintain a standard when you can go out, play averagely and still be sure of winning.
"It's a curious situation, a one-club league at the moment but hopefully Rangers will come back.
"But he's maintaining Celtic's great tradition the way he plays the game and the way he brings through young players."