A neutral spectator could never accept the fact that last night’s game at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes was between the third and second-last-placed teams in La Liga. After all, Granada gave Barcelona a run for their money and looked the better side on the night.
Paco Lopez’s side were inspired on the break and solid in defence and had worked out the right formula to frustrate Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona. Bryan Zaragoza’s blistering form only compounded the visitors’ issues.
Zaragoza opened the scoring for Granada with just 20 seconds on the clock with some neat footwork and precise finishing. He was once again on point at the half-hour mark as he outwitted Jules Kounde with his footwork before firing the ball beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s reach.
Barcelona fought back valiantly in the second half and conjured a point from the tricky fixture. Yet, one cannot help but wonder why the team is struggling repeatedly against lower-rated opposition.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Granada 2-2 Barcelona.
Lightning does strike twice, albeit unfavourably
Cesar Soto Grado was the referee for Barcelona’s league opener against Getafe. The scoreline on the night was tied at the end of regulation time when Ronald Araujo was taken down in the box.
Appeals for a penalty followed, but the referee denied the Catalans the clear spot kick despite a VAR review.
Fast forward to October, Soto Grado was the referee once again when Barcelona took on Granada last night. Yet again, there was controversy in the final minute of the game with the Catalans being robbed of a clear victory.
On the night, Barcelona fought valiantly to make up for two goals conceded early in the game. Lamine Yamal and Sergi Roberto helped equalise the score by the 85th minute, and the quest for a complete comeback was on.
The streets in Catalonia went beserk in stoppage time when Joao Felix got on the end of a sumptuous cross and headed the ball into the back of the net. The fairytale comeback was complete, or was it?
The referee did not appear convinced from the very beginning despite Felix being well onside for the move. In the end, the goal was disallowed for a Ferran Torres offside as he allegedly interfered with the play, something that Xavi did not agree with.
What makes the ruling surprising is that there have been instances this season alone when goals of this nature have been held up. It is thus difficult to see the result as anything short of daylight robbery by the refereeing decisions at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.
The youngest goalscorer in La Liga
Barcelona were far from their best in the first half against Granada on Sunday night. Yet, one of the highlights of the first 45 minutes was Lamine Yamal’s goal.
The youngster’s first official goal for the club, contrary to expectations, was far from a thing of beauty. Yet, the Catalans would take anything that came their way given the situation in the match at that point.
A well-orchestrated Barcelona attack in the dying minutes of the first half saw the forwards make clear inroads into the hosts’ defence. The ball fell to Joao Felix inside the area, and the Portuguese international had a golden chance to finish.
Yet, he didn’t. Felix instead went for a well-worked pass across the face of goal which fell for Yamal. The Spanish youngster had the goal at his mercy and walked the ball across the line.
The goal is of paramount importance, not only for Barcelona but for Spanish football as a whole. After all, Yamal became the youngest goalscorer in La Liga history at 16 days and 87 days of age.
Notably, this was his final chance at breaking the record for the next youngest scalp stood with Fabrice Olinga at 16 years and 96 days. The international break would thus see the youngster pass that number.
Riddled with problems
Nine games into the season, Barcelona have recorded six wins and three draws and sit third on the league standings. They are, however, three points behind leaders Real Madrid heading into the international break.
It is indeed commendable that the Blaugrana are unbeaten at this stage of the campaign. Yet, their performances have been far from convincing and riddled with problems.
For starters, Barcelona’s defence is not nearly as impenetrable as it was last season. A combination of injuries and altered defensive dynamics has left the team vulnerable at the back and the attacking full-backs have not helped their cause either.
Speed of circulation sits as one of the next primary concerns. Xavi’s side do not move the ball nearly as swiftly as needed to break down low blocks and give opposition defences sufficient time to get into position. Pedri and Frenkie de Jong’s absence only adds to the problems.
The latest of their problems, clearly, is the depletion of resources in the final third. With Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha out injured, the team lacked the presence of a lethal threat in the box and the substitutions looked ordinary.
Xavi’s Barcelona is thus riddled with questions that the manager currently does not have answers to. Will the international break give the coach time to work around the right solutions? Only time will tell.