Lucien Favre Says Jadon Sancho Was Benched vs. Barcelona Due to Lack of Focus

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2019

DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 22: Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund looks on during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and SC Paderborn 07 at Signal Iduna Park on November 22, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Jadon Sancho was benched for Borussia Dortmund's 3-1 UEFA Champions League loss against Barcelona on Wednesday because the German club "needed players that were really focused," according to manager Lucien Favre. 

The Englishman came off the bench at half-time at the Camp Nou when Dortmund were 2-0 down following Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi's first half-goals:

Several reports have indicated Sancho started as a substitute as a punishment for lateness:

Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul

Sportschau indicating Jadon Sancho not only was late to the team meeting, but also the team breakfast and training too. #BVB (Thanks to @Ravenblade86 for the heads-up)

After Antoine Griezmann got Barca's third, Sancho scored BVB's 77th-minute consolation, finishing brilliantly following some neat footwork on the edge of the box:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

4 – Jadon Sancho has become just the fourth different Englishman to score a Champions League goal against Barcelona at Camp Nou, after Andy Cole, Steve McManaman and Frank Lampard. Consolation. #UCL https://t.co/tOGsiQS4m0

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Jadon Sancho hits an absolute laser to bring Dortmund back within two ☄️ Watch the final minutes ➡️ https://t.co/3NZFBPlxlT https://t.co/oaVOwBsHXU

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

Disappointment for Dortmund in Barcelona... But Jadon Sancho managed to leave the Nou Camp with another beautiful goal for his collection 👌 Such an immense talent 💛🖤 https://t.co/mg10Nog9Mm

In the wake of the defeat, Sancho told reporters he was "not allowed to speak" about the situation.

Favre hinted the reason he started Sancho on the bench was because the 19-year-old was not fully focused:

"I explained to him [why he wasn't starting] before the game. I told him it was a really difficult game here in Barcelona, and we needed players that were really focused and that went on to the pitch really focused."

The Athletic's David Ornstein reported last week that Sancho had been left "feeling humiliated, scapegoated and unprotected" by Dortmund following public criticism from Favre and sporting director Michael Zorc, and his early substitution in the 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Favre's latest comments, and the fact he left Sancho on the bench for one of BVB's biggest games of the season, are unlikely to make the teenager feel any better.

It is not as though Sancho's form in 2019-20 make him deserving of a great deal of criticism.

In the Bundesliga, he has four goals and six assists in 10 appearances this term, a combined contribution better than any other player in the Dortmund squad.

After a breakout season in 2018-19, when he scored 12 league goals and provided 14 assists, the London-born winger continues to produce numbers that would be impressive even for a player in the prime of their career:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Jadon Sancho’s Borussia Dortmund career by numbers so far: • 72 games • 54 starts • 28 assists • 20 goals San-senational. https://t.co/8LPaWqsLfF

As one of Europe's best young players, Sancho has been strongly linked to Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid, per Ornstein.

Yet Dortmund appear to be doing little to keep him happy at the club. If anything, they seem to be actively trying to push Sancho away. 

The loss to Barca means BVB must better Inter Milan's result on the final matchday of the group stage in order to qualify out of Group F.

The German club host Slavia Prague, while Inter welcome Barca, who are already guaranteed top spot, to the San Siro.