Barcelona took on a tricky opponent in Granada on Sunday night in La Liga, hoping to close in on the gap with Girona after the Catalans dropped points earlier in the week. However, it was never going to be easy for Xavi’s men, especially considering that they were winless against the opposition in their last four games.
Xavi regained the services of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen on the night. The German started in goal with Pau Cubarsi and Inigo Martinez in central defence. Jules Kounde and Joao Cancelo provided the width in defence as the full-backs.
Andreas Christensen started as the pivot on the night in a clever innovation while Ilkay Gundogan and Frenkie de Jong played as the other midfielders. Lamine Yamal, Robert Lewandowski and Pedri completed the forward trio on the night with the latter acting as a false winger.
The game at Montjuic began with Barcelona dominating the early possession, albeit with no assertion. Granada were alert to the loose balls and looked to pounce on the same from the get-go, making life for Xavi’s men very difficult.
After a slow start, Barcelona’s first reasonable attack of the game arose in the ninth minute. Lamine Yamal began the attack for the Blaugranas, finding Robert Lewandowski who in turn attempted a stylish pass to Ilkay Gundogan. The German appeared close to securing a big chance before the ball was effectively cleared.
Three minutes later, Yamal was on the money once more. Taking a few slick touches past his marker, the teenage sensation played a sensational cross into the centre for Robert Lewandowski who could not make contact with a sumptuous cross.
Despite the wasted chance, however, Barcelona took the lead in the very same minute. The move began with Frenkie de Jong who did well to find Joao Cancelo down the left flank before the Portuguese star cut in with a lovely delivery across the face of the goal. Pouncing on his chance, Yamal volleyed a stunning finish past the goalkeeper, giving his side the lead.
The coming period of play saw Granada creating significant counterplay, active after going down at Montjuic. Myrto Uzuni and Oscar Melendo missed half-chances before Ter Stegen’s error gave Sanchez another opening. However, there was not much Granada could make of their chances.
The 35th minute of the clash saw Barcelona’s young centre-back, Pau Cubarsi, lunge into a dangerous tackle on Uzuni in the Barcelona area with the striker going down after the challenge.
The VAR review confirmed that the tackle was legal, however, and did away with claims for a penalty. Minutes later, Barcelona had a penalty of their own ruled out at the other end.
Xavi’s side had a stunning chance to double their lead in the 42nd minute when Pedri’s stunning backheel for Gundogan facilitated a lovely ball for Robert Lewandowski. The Pole’s finish, however, was heroically saved by Hongla off the line, gifting Granada a lifeline.
The visitors soon capitalised on the aforementioned lifeline as they equalised the scoring through Ricard Sanchez. Pellistri’s cross from the right flank was a well-measured ball into the centre, but words cannot describe Sanchez’s alertness to capitalise on the same and put it past Ter Stegen from a tight angle.
Heading into half-time, the scores at Montjuic were level with Barcelona boasting of the better period of play. Promising play, but undone by Granada’s one moment of magic.
The second period, just like the first half, was slow to start. Lewy missed a straightforward chance in the 53rd minute before Pellistri failed to convert a big chance of his own at the other end of the field just before the hour mark.
The Manchester United loanee made amends for his miss a minute later, however, with a sensational finish to give Granada the lead. Cubarsi’s poor clearance off Sanchez’s cross fell kindly for Uzuni who played the ball across the face of goal for Pellistri. With the goal at his mercy, it did not take much for the goal to arrive.
Less than a minute later, Barcelona struck back. Cancelo’s ball over the top for Gundogan was met by a lovely back-heel cut for Lewandowski who kept his cool and fired a stunning finish past Augusto Batalla to level the score.
A third goal in seven minutes soon appeared, and Granada retook the lead in the 67th minute. Stemming from a free-kick that was initially defended, Faitout Maouassa’s cross to Ignasi Miquel was picture-perfect as the centre-back headed the ball past Ter Stegen into the goal.
Fermin Lopez came on for Christensen while Raphinha replaced Joao Cancelo less than ten minutes later.
Xavi’s side found an equaliser through Fermin Lopez in the 78th minute but had the goal ruled out for offside. Two minutes later, Barcelona scored a legal equaliser and in some style.
Winning the ball back from Callejon, Yamal found himself at the edge of Granada’s area and with a significant distance between him and the goal. He took a shot from far out, curling the ball into the far corner of the goal and well beyond the reach of Granada’s goalkeeper.
The chances arrived hard and fast at both ends of the field as the game was still open to all three results. Guundogan’s header could not beat Batalla, as Barcelona shifted to a more cross-intensive approach in the dying minutes.
Marc Guiu replaced Pedri in the 89th minute on the night.
Despite having two strikers on the field for the final minutes and boasting of significant attacking threat, the Catalans could not find an eventual winner.
The game at Montjuic ended in a 3-3 draw; a big result for Real Madrid and the league title race. Barcelona are now five games without a win against Granada.