Barcelona’s problems went from bad to worse at Nuevo Los Carmenes, as Granada ran out comfortable 2-0 winners to climb to the top of La Liga.
The hosts made a lightning quick start to the game and took the lead through Ramon Azeez after just two minutes thanks to a mistake from left-back Junior Firpo. The hosts didn’t let La Blaugrana settle and carved out another opportunity moments later, though Marc-Andre ter Stegen was equal to the task.
The first half progressed at a frantic pace, with Ernesto Valverde’s men continuing to struggle in possession and unable to carve open a stubborn defence. The manager reacted at half time and brought on Lionel Messi and 16-year-old wonderkid Ansu Fati.
Immediately, the flow of the game changed and the away side were able to sustain attacks and assert their dominance. However, Granada were finally able to break into the Barcelona half after soaking up plenty of pressure and won a free-kick. From the resulting set-piece, Arturo Vidal – seconds after coming on – handled the ball to concede a Video Assistant Referee awarded penalty. Alvaro Vadillo cooly stepped up and tucked it home to make it 2-0.
The hosts were able to comfortably see out the remainder of the game and even had further chances on the counter – with Barça lacking imagination and creativity, despite Messi’s introduction.
Here’s 90min’s review of the game.
Starting XI: Rui Silva (6), Victor Diaz (6), German (6), Domingos D. (7), C. Neva (6), Azeez (8), Montoro J.M. (7), Herrera (7), Puertas (7), D. Machis (6), Soldado (8)
Substitutes: Vadillo (7), Carlos Fdez (6), Gonalons (N/A)
Key Talking Point
Although the fixtures for Barça are coming thick and fast, there was still a great deal of surprise over the lineup Ernesto Valverde named.
Considering the two sides came into the game level on points, many were expecting to see a near full-strength starting XI – perhaps one that included a certain Lionel Messi.
This wasn’t to be, and the team struggled to adjust to the high press and incredible work rate of Granada. After conceding early, the away side showed no real sign of drawing level in the first half – with the hosts continuing to win back possession.
Valverde needed to make a change – fast. And that is exactly what he did, wasting no time in bringing Messi and Fati on at half-time. Although they added a spark, they were unable to break their opponents down – while the team as a whole continued to make a string of errors.
The next horrific mistake by Vidal allowed Granada to double their lead from the penalty spot. There was a lack of composure and threat throughout the team – and the score could have been worse.
Valverde, but more importantly the fans, will be deeply concerned with Barça’s fragilities at the back – shaky is an understatement. Granada must be praised for their endeavour, but the visitors were truly awful.
Did we break Barcelona? It kinda feels like we might have broke Barcelona.
— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) September 21, 2019
Starting XI: Ter Stegan (5), Semedo (5), Pique (5), Lenglet (5), Junior (4); Rakitic (5), Sergi Roberto (4), de Jong (8*); Griezmann (4), Carles Pérez (5), Suárez (3)
Substitutes: Messi (6), Fati (6), Vidal (4)
STAR PLAYER – It was a sluggish and lacklustre performance from La Blaugrana with a number of players worryingly unable to assert themselves on the match. However, it was Frenkie de Jong who was constantly trying to make things happen and get his side pushing forward.
His performance was all-the-more impressive considering the disappointing displays by those around him. De Jong is becoming an increasingly crucial member in this Barcelona squad and even when those around him are struggling, he is continuing to shine.
It was a very mature display as he wasn’t phased by the high press and astonishing work rate of their opponents.
— Carlos (@GiantsNYY311) September 21, 2019
Granada next face a trip to take on Valladolid on Tuesday evening in La Liga and then they will host Leganes on the weekend.
Barça, meanwhile, play host to Villarreal on Tuesday evening in La Liga, before they travel to face Getafe on Saturday.