Getting back up after a humiliating loss in midweek is never easy. Ronald Koeman chose the same side that lost against Paris Saint-Germain, perhaps to showcase that he did not think Barça deserved to lose.
Barcelona were demoralised. For most of the half, Cadiz were happy to sit back in their half while Barça passed it around the deck. The Catalans lacked intensity, and it looked like it would be a typical Barça game against low blocks.
Clearly, Barça’s goal was to get the win to cut the gap on Atlético and in the first half, while not being scintillating, they did the job.
Cadiz came back from the dressing room with intentions to play with a higher tempo. Barça showed their class by continuously pinning Cadiz back.
The Catalans had many chances to score. On any other day, the locals would have had a bigger advantage, but they heavily missed their finishing boots.
Ousmane Dembélé was the epitome of the poor finishing on display from the Catalans. The Frenchman had a decent game but, as usual, missed crucial chances. Pedri, Dembélé and Lionel Messi animated the Barça side and were too good for Cadiz.
Before the 80th-minute mark, Barcelona had 20 shots compared to Cadiz’s solitary attempt. However, the visitors never gave up and got a point by the skin of their teeth. Mistakes from Barcelona have been costing them for the past year, and this game epitomised the Catalans’ woes.
After the PSG game, this performance was more reassuring, but the same problem – poor finishing – cost Koeman’s men more points.
31′ Pedri gets in a dangerous position, and two Cadiz defenders tackle him and do not get the ball. Penalty Barça.
32′ GOAL! Barça 1-0 Cadiz: Messi passes his penalty in the bottom left corner.
38′ Messi finds Frenkie de Jong behind the defence, and the Dutchman scores. The referee disallows the goal as the midfielder is in an offside position.
44′ Again, Barça score an offside goal! Sergiño Dest and Ousmane Dembélé combine well on the right, and the right-back’s determination gets him past the opposition. A moment of incomprehension where Dest, in an offside position, touches the ball, which ends up in front of Pedri, who scores.
62′ Dembélé dribbles past the whole Cadiz team with a solo run and does his trademark crochet. However, a defender blocks his shot.
66′ Again, Dembélé’s run is superb, and he gets in front of the keeper, but his finish is poor.
88′ Clément Lenglet shoots Sanchez’s foot in the box and gives away a penalty.
89′ GOAL! Barça 1-1 Cadiz: Alex Fernandez tucks in his penalty.
3 lessons learned from Osasuna 0-2 Barcelona — Ugly, but necessary three points
The mighty El Sadar has been conquered yet again! With away performances gaining so much momentum under Ronald Koeman, one has to applaud the Dutchman.
On a night when three points were a must to push pressure on Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, the side did not disappoint. Now, more than ever, all eyes will be on the Madrid Derby. Barcelona lurk just two points below Diego Simeone’s side, and the pressure on Atletico is real.
The name of Osasuna never resonates with a simple win in the minds of Culès. The Pamplona based side is one of the most feared oppositions when on their own soil. Though the absence of fans does factor in massively, it does not take away anything from the Catalans display. It may not have been a convincing win, however, it was necessary. Here are three takeaways from Barcelona’s win over Osasuna.
1. The fatigue is real
That we now see fatigue set in is not surprising at all. The rigid schedule has kept the Blaugranas on their toes for close to a month. An average of two games a week is torturous to players, moreover so when all are must-wins. Given Barcelona’s situation in the League and the tight situation in the cup, Koeman could not afford to rotate either.
The after-effects of playing 120 high-intensity minutes midweek clearly showed at the El Sadar. Kep players like Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Lionel Messi were uncharacteristically sloppy. The game seemed slow and lethargic, with sluggish movements. The first half was abysmal, spare the rocket goal from Jordi Alba. On any other day with such a performance, the equaliser would have come very soon from the opposition.
2. The goals keep flowing, from unconventional sources
One major factor that separated Barcelona and Real Madrid in recent seasons was the spark that found the back of the net. Barcelona, in recent seasons, have been heavily reliable on Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. In any high-pressure games, the whole team would turn to the duo hoping for some magic to be conjured. On the other hand, Real Madrid kept finding goals from every department: defence, midfield and forward.
Now the roles seem reversed. Barcelona when in trouble do not turn desperately to their captain. The Catalans have got goals consistently from all over the pitch. Once again, on Saturday, they walked away with all three points without the forwards scoring any goal.
Indeed, both the assists were conjured by Leo’s sorcery. However, in any other season, Jordi Alba would not go for the shot there. And similarly, no midfielder even last year would dare to go for a goal from the position Ilaix Moriba found himself in. The involvement of the collective for the objective of scoring goals can only be a good thing for Ronald Koeman and Barcelona.
3. The scrambled wins are as important as the aesthetic ones
Any successful side does not enjoy a perfect day every time they step on the pitch. Some days are just meant to be theirs, every pass seems inch-perfect. On such days, no defence can stop such a side.
However, it is the bad days that separate great clubs from average ones. The creme-de-la-creme of clubs scrape out wins even on the worst of days. The wins may not be pleasing to the eyes, but they walk away with all three points nevertheless.
Barcelona under Ronald Koeman are now starting to show these signs. At the El Sadar, the Catalans had everything against them. They had just come off the back of an exhausting 120 minutes at the Camp Nou. Their first choice centre-backs were both out with injury. However, they continued to grind for the full 90 minutes and walked away with a win.
The saplings of a monstrous team have been planted. And truly, we couldn’t have asked for a better gardener. Koeman’s faith in the youngsters even on the worst of nights is fascinating and heavily underrated. Barcelona have now shown to be capable of pulling off wins at both their peaks and lows. The signs are still primitive. However, they are undoubtedly the signs of a great team in the making.