A match report and summary of Barcelona’s 1-1 draw against Deportivo Alavés at Estadio de Mendizorroza.
Barcelona came to this game with a log of confidence. After a superb win in Turin, they hoped to rock the Mendizorroza too. With Ansu Fati, who just turned 18, and Ousmane Dembélé, Culés had a lot of hope for Ronald Koeman’s side.
The Dutchman set up in a 4-2-3-1, but Sergio Busquets was seemingly given more freedom to roam on the pitch. A few sparkles came from Barça in the beginning. First, Clément Lenglet sent Fati through on goal, but the birthday boy couldn’t manage to score his one-on-one opportunity.
After that, Lionel Messi’s freekick was stopped on the line, with eight defenders in goal for that one. Antoine Griezmann then followed Ansu Fati’s run perfectly, and the Spanish forward gave it back to the Frenchman for a chance on goal. The 29-year-old’s finish was lacklustre, and he should’ve done better.
Story of the first half. (Photo by Cesar Manso / AFP)
After all these chances, Barça should’ve scored, but they shouldn’t have gone down. After a lousy counter-attack from the Basque team, Gerard Piqué passed the ball back to his goalkeeper. Neto stuttered, and Luis Rioja stole the ball from him. 1-0 to Alavés after Neto’s lack of concentration had cost Barça a lot. Now that Marc-André Ter Stegen is back, these mistakes will be under scrutiny, and it isn’t good enough for a Blaugrana keeper.
Barcelona kept pushing, but in vain. Fati found his captain in a lot of space. Messi couldn’t get a lot of power on the ball, and therefore the shot ended up as an easy save for Fernando Pacheco.
After the Juventus game, Koeman has to confirm his side’s promising signs. This first-half against Alavés isn’t good enough.
First-half: Deportivo Alavés 1-0 Barcelona
Football is all about spicing things up. Koeman did early in the game. Three substitutions at half time. This time, the former Everton coach did not wait to score. Francisco Trincão, Miralem Pjanic and Pedri all came on to turn the game on its head. The three changes were superb, and Barcelona operated with Frenkie de Jong at centre-back once again.
The Dutch star was superb. He carried the ball from defence to attack perfectly. Other than de Jong, Pedri changed the game completely. With his passes and his vision, Pedri picked out teammates from afar. The Alavés players couldn’t get ahold of him.
Special mention to Alavés. The Basque side defended in an imperial way and could’ve held on to the win. Unfortunately for the Basques, Jota was sent off for a kick to Gerard Pique’s chest. This incident allowed Barça to get more space to breathe, and they finally found a way through this hermetic defence.
After Ansu Fati carries the ball perfectly towards the middle of the pitch, and Alavés defender tackled him. The defender deviated the ball towards Antoine Griezmann’s run. The Frenchman was composed this time out. He went in from of the excellent Fernando Pacheco and chipped him. This goal made Barcelona go level.
Does Griezmann finally have his scoring boots on? (Photo by Cesar Manso / AFP)
With 71% possession, Barcelona had the ball for the bulk of the game. Messi could’ve found a way just after Griezmann’s goal. The Argentine legend came from the right and shot. Pacheco parried his finesse shot, though. Later, Pedri spotted Trincão’s run, and his sumptuous pass nearly contributed to Griezmann’s second. Trincao found the former Atletico forward, but the Portuguese youngster was in an offside position. Messi also found the back of the net but was also offside.
At 1-1 and with the time flying, Koeman tinkered. On came Sergiño Dest and afterwards Martin Braithwaite. Towards the 87th minute, Messi found Dest on the edge of the area. The American”s shot was parried by Pacheco who had to make an excellent save on Pjanic’s effort from afar. Gerard Piqué could’ve found the back of the net twice towards the end. First, a superb header countered by a defender. Then, after Sergi Roberto’s smart run, Piqué couldn’t get his foot on the ball to score. Unlucky for Barça, great from Pacheco and his defenders.
Barcelona kept pushing again and again. They got many corners towards the end. They shot from range. They tried every route. However, their efforts came in vain.
Nonetheless, Koeman’s side has to start games better. Chasing every game will not do, and they have to switch on from the first to the last minute. They can’t give their opponents such occasions to go 1-0 up early. This time, it was Neto’s fault but against Real Madrid, Getafe or Sevilla, it wasn’t. The Catalans have to do better
Full Time: Deportivo Alavés 1-1 Barcelona