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Deportivo Alavés 1-1 Barcelona: Match Summary

Alexandre Patanian



Photo by Cesar Manso / AFP

A match report and summary of Barcelona’s 1-1 draw against Deportivo Alavés at Estadio de Mendizorroza.

First Half

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

Second Half

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

As a Lebanese teenager who never had the chance to support their local team, I fell in love with the club that was FC Barcelona at the start of the decade. I always was passionate about writing and this is exactly what I am looking for: sharing my insights and opinions on football.


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    01/11/2020 at 06:15



Detailed Analysis: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona

Soumyajit Bose



Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

In collaboration with Anurag Agate.

Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona faced Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. In a game marred by defensive blunders and devastating injuries, Barcelona lost the game 1-0 to fellow title-challengers.

A 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in La Liga left Barcelona reeling midtable. This was also the first time Diego Simeone’s side beat Barcelona in the La Liga. Coupled with crucial injuries to Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto, Barcelona now face a dire path ahead of their UCL game against Dynamo Kyiv.

Barcelona structure and formation

Ronald Koeman went in with his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation. Marc Andre Ter Stegen started in goal again. Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet formed the centre back pairing, flanked by Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto. In the absence of Sergio Busquets, Miralem Pjanic stepped up to form the double pivot with the ever-present Frenkie de Jong.

Pedri and Ousmane Dembele played on the flanks, with Lionel Messi in the hole and Antoine Griezmann upfront. However, as before, Messi and Griezmann had lots of interchanging positions. Pedri played more in the half-space in possession while Dembele stayed out wide. This often made the team structure a lop-sided 4-4-2. In defensive transitions, it was always a 4-4-2 with Griezmann dropping deeper to defend. Messi restricted his pressing to zones high up the pitch.

Frenkie de Jong had the freedom to push up high in the first half. However, the absence of Ansu Fati meant that the usual overload on the left side did not work in this game. Pedri had a poor game in general. Him moving far too infield to let Alba run down the left did not quite work – the passing was far too restricted by Atleti’s excellent defending. A second-half injury to Pique meant that de Jong had to play 35 minutes roughly as a centre back, which he did very well.

Atletico structure and formation

Atletico were missing some key personnel as well, most notably perhaps, Luis Suarez up top. They also missed a regular left-back Renan Lodi, and Hector Herrera and Lucas Torreira in midfield. They lined up in a highly asymmetric 4-4-2/5-3-2 structure and style.

Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez formed the centre back partnership. Mario Hermoso played in a hybrid centre-back/extremely defensive full-back role. Kieran Trippier was the more offensive fullback, practically functioning as a wing-back. Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente joined the reliable duo of Koke and Saul Niguez in central midfield as wide midfielders. Carrasco played almost in a hybrid wide midfield/wingback role. Joao Felix and Angel Correa formed the front two.

The hybrid system was particularly evident in the different phases of the game. In attack, Hermoso would push out wide like a full back but stay in more defensive, withdrawn zones. Carrasco had the freedom to stay wide looking for overlapping runs to meet Felix’s clever passes. On the other side, Llorente would shift infield, allowing Trippier to bomb forward.

Felix himself overlapped down the left side several times, trying to create numeric overloads against Roberto and Pique, dragging Pjanic wide in the process. Carrasco’s and Felix’s overlaps on the left, coupled with Saul Niguez moving ball-near side and Correa dropping in to give options – this combination created quite a few problems in the first half. Here is an example – it led to Saul’s shot early on which was saved by ter Stegen.

Game Stats

The game was more or less evenly balanced – neither team were outright dominant than the other in any aspect. Here is the game data at a glance:

Barcelona enjoyed marginally more possession, marginally more shots and shots on target, and a better press than Atletico. Of course, the hosts had the all-deciding goal in their favour. Neither team generated high-quality shots overall, as the shot map and xG flowchart shows :

Barcelona’s possession superiority was pretty stale. Barcelona failed to dominate critical territorial zones, measured by field tilt – which is the percentage share of final third passes of each team. Even though Barcelona had higher field tilt, it was only marginal. What strikes out is that just the goal came when Barcelona were enjoying their best bit of territorial dominance.

Buildup to shots and goals

Next we take a look at some of the shots and the goal. Early on, Barcelona had the chance to score. Dembele burned his marker with pace and sent a cross into the box. It was met by a clever flick by Greizmann. The shot sailed high unfortunately.

Atleti had their chances on the other side as well. Soon after Saul saw his shot saved, the other flank created yet another moment of danger. A brilliant interchange of passing involving Correa and Trippier met Llorente’s clever run into the box. The shot crashed against the bar.

Towards the end of the first half, Barcelona could have scored again. There was a brilliant bit of buildup, a clever run by Griezmann to drag a defender, and then Messi ghosted blindside of the center mids to meet Alba’s nutmeg pass. The angle was too tight and Messi failed to score.

Soon after, Barcelona conceded the goal. Pique stepped up to intercept a long ball. Ideally, that should have been fine, except Pique miscontrolled the pass. That left almost everyone out of position. A simple ball over the top released Carrasco into oceans of space. But the maddening part perhaps was that ter Stegen left his box wildly to tackle the Belgian. He missed; Carrasco did not – he scored into an empty net from distance.

In the second half, Barcelona had chances to equalize. However, Lenglet headed straight at Jan Oblak twice. Greizmann headed straight at Oblak once. Barcelona failed to engineer any better chances than those. The key passes map shows the crosses into the box:

Passing Characteristics

Atletico’s strength lies in engaging from wide areas. In this game, their biggest threats came again from the wide zones. Hermoso, Koke, Saul and Felix regularly released Carrasco and Trippier down the flanks. Trippier would often look for cutbacks or layoff into Llorente upfield.

Barcelona on the other hand tried to create from all possible zones. Frenkie de Jong managed to pull off a wonderful long pass into the box that Greizmann miscontrolled. Dembele single-handedly created chances from the right. The combinations of Alba and Messi created – in subdued amounts – danger from the other side.

For Barcelona, Messi, de Jong, Dembele and Alba were the bulk progressive passers. For Atleti, Koke, Trippier, Hermoso and Savic progressed the ball the most.

Both teams also tried to use width a lot. Surprisingly, Barcelona had more switches of play than Atleti, who have built their game to attack wider areas. For Barcelona, perhaps the reason for frequent switching was that they could not progress a lot directly.


The game data table posted above shows us that neither team pressed a lot. PPDA, which is a proxy for pressing intensity, was around 20 for both teams (low values of PPDA indicate high pressing). Here are the maps showing the defensive activities of both team:

Atleti forbade any progress down the centre. Upfield, they tried to press Pedri and Alba from creating too much danger. Deep in their half, they tried to force Dembele as wide as possible and tried to isolate him. Barcelona pressed all over the pitch in the middle-third. In deeper zones, they had to deal with the wide threats of Carrasco and Felix, and Llorente’s infield runs. The following plot also shows how Atleti forced passes wide and forced mistakes :

Two recurring issues troubled Barcelona yet again. The lack of chemistry and the lack of experience of the youth meant that certain runs went untracked. Atleti’s rapid front line dragged Barcelona into wrong zones, allowing trailing players to ghost into blindside runs. Saul and Llorente’s efforts at goal are perfect examples of this. In the first case, Pjanic was pulled in, leaving Saul free. In the second case, Pedri’s inexperience led to him losing his mark against Llorente completely.

Speed is always an issue that Barcelona has had trouble against. Llorente’s quick underlaps created quite a bit of trouble for Lenglet. Here is yet another example of a run – the pass from Llorente was thankfully cleared.


The goal was a combination of poor positioning and lack of speed, combined with some poor touch and terrible decision-making. Pique was out of position when he made the failed interception. No one in the team was speedy enough to catch up to Carrasco down the left. Ter Stegen should have communicated better with Lenglet and stayed in the box because Lenglet was haring down to secure the centre.

Issues have now been compounded with injuries to Pique and Roberto. If they face lengthy spells away from the pitch, Barcelona are stretched thin in the defence department. De Jong looks set to continue as a centre back for the next game at the very least and Sergino Dest will have to start. Barcelona faces extremely testing times ahead.

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