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Two key differences between a title-running and title-forfeiting Barcelona



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Girona beat Barcelona 4-2 when the two teams met at Montjuic earlier this season and managed to churn out the same scoreline against Xavi’s men last night in a complete humiliation.

The win takes Girona back to second-place in La Liga and one point above Barcelona. With just four games to go and the team looking out of shape, it could well reflect the final standings.

But where did it all go wrong?

Crumbling on a single touch

Years have rolled by at Barcelona, but the team’s tendency to snap at the slightest hint of pressure still remains the same.

That, by far, has been the difference between the team’s title-winning run last season and title-forfeiting run this time around. There is a mental element to Barcelona’s subpar season and it is far from being resolved.

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It does not take more than a single negative development on the field to change the colour of Barcelona’s performance. The fear of a collapse then immediately sets in, nerves take over, and the game is doomed.

Last night’s clash against Girona was more of the same. Xavi’s men dished out a very decent first half, creating threats and missing chances as is the norm.

They even went into the half-time break with a lead to their name and the game under control. It all went haywire, however, after Girona’s equaliser in the second period.

With the nerves overwhelming players on the field once again, Barcelona soon began misplacing their passes. Every passing Girona attack shattered the Catalans’ confidence more.

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Jules Kounde and Joao Cancelo on the flank appeared virtually helpless against the hosts’ counter-attacks and long passes and showed poor game reading overall.

Individual mistakes bear heavy

It was an individual mistake that cost Barcelona a place in the UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Last weekend, the same factor once again saw the Catalans almost go down to Valencia.

The game at Montilivi, once again, saw Barcelona players dish out unforgivable individual errors that virtually threw the game away.

The first game-defining individual error on the night came from the boots of the captain Sergi Roberto who attempted to play a back-pass under pressure in the 66th minute.

His ball, however, was too light and fell straight in the path of Artem Dobvyk and set him free on goal. The same passage of play helped Michel’s side get back on level terms and begin their comeback.

Minutes later, Girona scored again and while no particular individual was at fault, it was young Pau Cubarsi who gave the ball away and allowed the hosts to counter. The attack was perfectly stoppable, however, but Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde’s poor positioning did not help.

Goodbye, La Liga

What was a battle to firmly establish a grip over the number two spot for Barcelona ended disastrously at Estadi Montilivi last night.

Not only did Xavi’s side give away the second place on the league standings to Girona and drop down but they also officially crowned Real Madrid the Champions of the league in the process.

Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

With four games to go, Barcelona can only reach a maximum of 85 points while Girona can reach 86. Real Madrid’s win over Cadiz, which took them to 87, thus seals La Liga and signifies the official end of the title race.

From Barcelona’s point of view, it is now about recovering from the forgettable game against Girona and looking to end the season on a high.

In the larger picture, it is essential they let the overall disastrous season pass and make amends for the next campaign.

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