League leaders Barcelona took on Mallorca on Tuesday night at Estadi de Son Moix on Matchday 7 of La Liga.
The Catalans were freshly off their comeback win over Celta Vigo and riding high on confidence. Yet, Mallorca always create problems for the Catalans and the visitors were aware of the same.
On the night, Xavi Hernandez opted to understandably shuffle his deck amidst the hectic schedule. While the fullbacks remained the same, the manager gave both Ronald Araujo and Inigo Martinez starts in place of Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen.
The midfield featured Gavi, Oriol Romeu, and Ilkay Gundogan considering the two crucial injuries. In the final third, Robert Lewandowski was rested with Ferran Torres playing as the number nine.
Raphinha and Joao Felix completed the lineup on the right and left wing respectively.
The game at Son Moix kicked off with both sides continuing a relatively equal battle for possession, although it was clear that Barcelona were not in their groove. The Catalans were nervy in the opening minutes, giving Mallorca the slight upper hand.
In just the eighth minute of play, the hosts took the lead over Barcelona. It was a gift from Marc-Andre ter Stegen who played a slack pass out of over-confidence.
The German’s pass fell straight to the hungry Mallorca forwards who unleashed a series of attempts on the fragile goal. Ultimately, Vedat Muriqi buried his opportunity to set Barcelona back.
Xavi Hernandez’s men slowly got into the game in the minutes that followed, clearly still reeling from shock after going down. By the 20th minute, they began making good inroads into the Mallorca defence with Joao Felix having the visitors’ first big chance of the night.
Raphinha was the team’s single most threatening attacking player in the final third in the first half. After creating Felix’s chance, he laid the ball on a platter for Ferran Torres four minutes later but the Spaniard could not convert his opportunity.
Barcelona’s possession gradually began converting into tangible opportunities as the minutes flew by. By the 40th minute, it was all Barcelona in orchestrated attacking transitions.
Unsurprisingly, it was Raphinha who netted the visitors’ equaliser with a sensational finish. Receiving the ball outside Mallorca’s area, the Brazilian set himself up with one touch before blasting it behind the reach of Predrag Rajkovic.
The goalscorer missed another glorious chance in the 45th minute to give his side the lead, with Felix following suit a minute later. When everything appeared set for the Catalans to head into half-time at parity, Xavi’s men conceded a second goal.
Mallorca’s second goal of the night was simple, yet completely preventable by the Blaugranas. They fell for a simple long-goalkick transition with Ter Stegen partially at fault for blocking Ronald Araujo in his indecisiveness.
Heading into half-time Xavi Hernandez’s men were down by a goal, and deservedly so.
Barcelona began the second half relatively inspired, hoping to catch Mallorca off guard. The first big chance, however, came from nothing when Felix pulled the trigger from distance and struck the woodwork.
Robert Lewandowski came on for Torres just before the hour mark. Six minutes later, Fermin Lopez and Lamine Yamal entered the field for Oriol Romeu and Joao Felix.
The game rolled on in its tense vein as Mallorca resiliently resisted every Barcelona attack. Yamal appeared to have won a penalty for the visitors, but VAR ruled it out.
The equaliser eventually did arrive in the 75th minute through La Masia starlet Fermin Lopez. The goal, in itself, was a thing of beauty.
The move once again stemmed from Yamal’s venture forward. The youngster found Raphinha in space on the left flank before the Brazilian unleashed a great cutback centrally. Lewandowski’s dummy eliminated Mallorca’s defence from the equation and Lopez did the honours of burying the cross.
Jules Kounde came on for Inigo Martinez immediately after the goal.
Both teams pushed for a late winner in the final ten minutes with the game poised to tip either way. However, neither could make it happen.
The draw sees Barcelona drop two valuable points, and possibly the number one spot on the league table. All eyes will be on Real Madrid’s game tomorrow night.