With a win, Barca would extend their lead atop La Liga to 15 points. And with the game at home, Barca truly couldn’t squander this golden opportunity.
What would Xavi’s side do with this?
Well, let’s find out.
For Barca’s title hopes, this match seemed very important in terms of wrapping up La Liga as quickly as possible. A chance to go 15 points clear of Real Madrid certainly can’t be taken for granted, which is why many expected Barca to at least come out with energy and feistiness.
But surprising to us, Barca came out with almost zero energy.
Girona found it comfortable when they had possession, cycling around their own half with efficiency, while making Barca’s press look rather pedestrian.
This is why Barca’s opening 10 minutes or so seemed rather average at best, with plenty left to be desired. But Barca has always found ways to rebound from slow starts, so the disappointing one tonight wasn’t one to be concerned with….right?
Wrong, because Barca’s sluggish first half continued well into the tail end of the opening 45 minutes, with chances coming in low totals and the attack failing to threaten.
It was so bad, that Barca’s best chances in the opening half came from a Raphinha shot while he was extremely tight on goal, a potential own goal after some mistakes by Girona in their own third, and Ronald Araujo’s strike off a corner that looked very close to being across the goal line.
Other than that, Barca looked dead and somewhat lifeless, which was concerning nonetheless.
Once the half ended, Barca was bombarded with a lot of questions. What’s wrong with the attack? Why is the midfield lifeless? What changes need to be made?
These and so much more were pondered upon, which honestly made Barca’s response in the second half kind of interesting. Would Barca reflect on their poor opening half and wake up in the second half? We all had a bit of a feeling they would, given how much they’ve done it this season alone.
But unfortunately for Barca, they didn’t wake up. However, they did bring more excitement, which means something I guess?
In reality, Barca’s performance in the second half didn’t really impress either.
There still wasn’t enough urgency in the attack, the midfield still looked static, and the energy of the team still wasn’t at the required level.
That’s why all hope seemed lost for Barca, at least until the final stages of the match when Xavi had an interesting substitution.
Off came Raphinha, who had a dreadful match, and on came Jordi Alba to play as a left winger. Interesting? Yes. Weird? Yes.
I know there were some questions regarding this sub and why Xavi chose to do it instead of putting on one of Barca’s talented young wing options.
But once Alba came on, his runs on the left side gave Barca’s attack the jolt of energy they’d been looking for. His IQ came in handy, as his chance creation came off brilliantly timed runs that just weren’t there for the other Barca attackers previously.
In the 90th minute and into stoppage time, is when Alba’s sudden energy sent a jolt of electricity into the rest of the squad. Chances started to flow, including some dangerous ones that should’ve been converted on.
One was a header off a corner, in which Gavi got a piece of the dangerous free kick and sent a header on goal. His shot was saved, but the directness was still there, which was encouraging in terms of Barca finding a late winner.
The second chance was from Araujo himself, who made a darting run down the right flank, before firing a pass towards a wide open Robert Lewandowski. Lewandowski tried to make the most of the chance by backheeling a shot toward goal, but his effort was deflected away from goal.
However, once that occurred, Barca generally ran out of time.
They had dropped 2 points in a match which they could’ve extended their lead atop La Liga.
A depressing conclusion for a depressing match overall.
I don’t really have much to say.
This match was awful from start to finish, with Barca not providing any sort of entertainment whatsoever. The attack was bad, the midfield was bad, but the only somewhat saving grace was the defense. Which you’d expect considering Barca’s quality and Girona’s lack of quality going forward.
With a 13 point lead now, I don’t think Barca is in trouble one bit. But their performances have been gradually getting worse, which won’t spell a lot of confidence in the squad going forward, when a stretch of difficult matches hit Barca’s doorstep.
We’ll just have to see if Barca can reverse their situation, while praying their injured stars return without further consequences.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be this Sunday away against Getafe.
See you all then!