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Three talking points from Almeria 1-0 Barcelona



Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona slumped to their second defeat in as many games on Sunday as they were beaten 1-0 by UD Almeria. Playing against clearly inferior opposition, the Catalans were subpar on many levels in a dry and uninspiring display.

El Bilal Toure gave the hosts the lead halfway through the first half. Barcelona’s embarrassing chase began from that point but ended in vain as they could not find even an equaliser.

Xavi’s Barcelona are now suddenly under pressure, a shocking development considering their eighteen-game unbeaten streak recently. Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Almeria 1-0 Barcelona.

1. Scars of Old Trafford

After the defeat at Old Trafford midweek, media outlets began reporting the mood and reaction inside the Catalan camp.

Unsurprisingly, Xavi’s men were reportedly disappointed in themselves for letting such a game slip through their hands. Yet, there was said to be a belief in the players that their elimination was for the best.

With only two domestic competitions left, it was said that the Barcelona administration saw the situation with optimism and believed that they could now finally push for the title. The possibility of the loss mentally defeating the players was not even an option.

Yet, Barcelona showed on Sunday that they are still not over the ghosts of Manchester. The leaders played far below their usual level, showing hints of panic and helplessness on the field.

There was no plan for much of the Blaugrana’s game against Almeria. The rotated defence let Xavi down, while players like Franck Kessie and Robert Lewandowski disappeared for the better part of 90 minutes.

If indeed the loss was a solitary event with all eleven players, unfortunately, switching off, it could be excusable. However, if there is any psychological and mental aspect to it, Xavi’s side might be in trouble, dangerously close to a vicious cycle.

2. The dismal attack

Another quiet night for Lewandowski (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

There was little to cheer about Barcelona’s showing at the Power Horse Stadium on Sunday with all three departments failing in their own way. However, the performance of the forward department was particularly dismal.

The visitors had seemingly no plan to break through the Almeria defence in the absence of Pedri. In fact, there was hardly any attempt by the Blaugrana to strike through the centre.

Instead, Xavi’s men went down the luck-based crossing route. The team tried to pepper in crosses from the flanks in the hope that someone would get into the end of it. By just the 60th minute, Barcelona had equalled their season’s record in the league.

In 90 minutes, the Catalans played a whopping 47 crosses. The number shows the sheer desperation and lack of ideas on the side. While the panic strategy could have worked, the problem was that just nine of Barcelona’s crosses were accurate.

Jordi Alba and Ferran Torres were the only two players trying to make things happen in the final third. While the former started strong and played a good first half, Torres was perhaps the best player at full-time.

Robert Lewandowski’s bizarrely disappointing performances continued on the night and arguably derailed the team’s chances. The Pole did not manage a single shot on target against Almeria in ninety minutes and he accumulated an xG of just 0.28 with his four shots off target.

3. A golden chance to let go

To lose to 19th placed Almeria with the title race still open is criminal for a club of Barcelona’s stature. The newly-promoted side had just won six of their 22 games up until kickoff on Sunday and were coming into the game having lost their last three encounters.

With a win on Sunday, Barcelona would have gone ten points clear on top of the league table. Having just 15 games to go, it would be a sizeable lead.

Now, Xavi’s side have only a seven-point lead over their arch-rivals and a defeat in March’s Clasico would bring it to four. Needless to say, the race could cut much closer than the Catalans would have liked if they fail to get back on track soon.

Barcelona now head into the midweek Clasico in the Copa del Rey on the back of two straight defeats. The pressure is thus on Xavi & co. to get the side back to winning ways soon.

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