Here we are, the start of a brand new La Liga campaign.
Barca came into tonight’s match with similar ambitions as last season. Which is to win the league while fending off the likes of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Madrid started off their campaign with a win against Athletic Bilbao at the San Mamès. All Barca had to do was follow suit and the two biggest clubs in Spain would start the year level on points.
But that wasn’t going to be easy, as Barca had a tough away fixture to begin the year at Getafe.
Away days at Getafe are never easy. So much so that Barca hadn’t won in their last 3 trips to the Sam Mamès. But streaks are meant to broken right? Which meant Barca had a precious chance to start a new (winning) streak, something all Barca fans were desperately hoping for.
So let’s see how the match went.
The first half was full of energy as you’d expect.
Barca dominated the majority of possession. But they found it difficult to break down Getafe’s low block. Since José Bordalás is leading the charge, it wasn’t surprising that Barca had to scratch and claw their way to any sort of danger in the attack.
Nonetheless, Barca needed to do so, if they wanted to get off on the right foot of course.
It appeared they were going to do so, especially as the first half went along. Barca created a few chances, both instigated by Raphinha.
The first was a free kick he won in a dangerous area. But his shot was pounced on by the Getafe keeper. It wasn’t a bad idea, but Barca are still on the hunt for their first direct free kick goal since the departure of Lionel Messi.
The second chance was a more concrete one. As Raphinha made a darting run in behind the Getafe defense, he controlled the ball very well with a sublime first touch.
Raphinha then geared up to blast a volley on net, but his shot was saved by the Getafe keeper, ending the danger.
Barca was starting to get into their groove, which was very encouraging to see considering just how frustrating it is to break down a Bordalás defensive block. But as soon as the positivity began to flow, a big obstacle stopped Barca dead in their tracks.
Raphinha’s red card
Raphinha received a straight red just a few minutes before the beginning of extra first half time. He had been getting fouled a lot, but opposing players weren’t being punished enough for rag dolling Raphinha around. So him being frustrated, he elbowed a Getafe player in the face with full intent.
It’s okay to be frustrated and I’m not going to be the one to say he should’ve been better. Because we don’t know how he’s specifically feeling since we’re not in his shoes. But there has to be better composure from Raphinha there, no matter how unnecessarily hard the opposition is playing.
Him getting sent off put Barca at a numbers disadvantage, which left Xavi with some interesting decisions to make. Luckily, halftime was close enough so there wasn’t a lot of time between the red card and the end of the first half. So at least there was a bright spot there.
Halftime arrived soon enough, with the score level at nil. Barca needed to get creative in the second half if they wanted to take all 3 points. But down a man, it was going to be very difficult to do.
However, Barca had some attacking options on the bench. All of which could jumpstart an effort for a goal if Barca wanted to continue with their approach.
We didn’t know what was going to be in store for the second half, but based on what we saw in the first half, maybe we should’ve gotten a bit of an idea.
The second half was…wild to say the least.
Barca came out of the halftime break with more energy, focus, and enthusiasm towards finding that first goal. This was mostly made possible by the subs Barca made in the second half, all of which involved bringing more youth onto the field.
But also due to the fact that Getafe’s own Jaime Mata received his second yellow card of the match. Giving him a red and evening the numbers between Getafe and Barca.
As for the subs, Ez Abde was the first sub, as he came on for Andreas Christensen as the beginning of the second half. Abde wasn’t able to have many shining moments, but his runs attributed to one early second half chance for Barca, as his scissor kick effort off a darting run in behind went well above the net.
Others that came on included Ansu Fati and Lamine Yamal, both of which almost connected for a goal later on in the second half. Yamal lofted a pretty ball for Fati in the penalty area, but Fati’s volley was off target as well.
At this point it seemed like Barca was knocking on the door, but they just couldn’t put home that goal to reward their own effort. Well, at least it seemed that way, because after all the previous action in the second half, Barca were on the verge of being awarded a penalty.
Joy, then disappointment for Barca
Ronald Araujo had received a clear kick to his ankle as he was going for a loose ball in Getafe’s penalty area. At first the referee didn’t give the penalty. But the RFEF advised the referee to take a look at VAR, and for a moment, it appeared a penalty was going to be given.
But the referee delivered bad news, as he stated Gavi had committed a handball before the kick to Araujo’s ankle.
From this angle, it appeared the ball came off Gavi’s own shoulder, which isn’t a handball according to the rules. But the referee saw it differently, much to the dismay of Barca players and coaches.
Soon after this chaos, the match ended, and thank the heavens it did. The atmosphere was too tense, filled with too much vitriol, and full of toxicity. It was in both team’s best interest that this match ended, therefore allowing both sides to move on.
Nonetheless though, it was a horrific match by purity standards, not one for the footballing beauty enthusiasts to enjoy.
Honestly there’s nothing else I can say.
Barca got off on the wrong foot with 4 midfielders, allowing for more control but less impact up front in the attack. Plus, Pedri being deployed further up with Robert Lewandowski killed his ability to create, which Barca needed desperately in the first half.
These problems can be fixed with some tweaks, but they need to be acknowledged before anything occurs. Which is why the pressure will ride on Xavi to get things right soon.
There’s a lot more we can discuss, including the impending Lewandowski problem, but we can save that for future analysis.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be next Sunday against Cadiz. This will be the first match of the new La Liga campaign at the Montjuïc.
See you all then!