There wasn’t any room for error tonight.
Yes, it’s early in the season, but Barca had a chance to regain momentum and put more pressure on their Spanish rivals. In order to do that, they had to win away against Mallorca, something that seems easy on paper, but the ways of football can prove otherwise sometimes.
So how did Barca play against Mallorca?
The opening stages of this match unexpectedly favored Mallorca. Well, maybe not unexpectedly, but you’d certainly expect Barca to come out with more energy than they did during this up and down first half.
Mallorca were the more physically aggressive side, lunging at loose balls giving full effort of critical challenges across the field. To make matters a bit worse, Barca were way more sloppy in possession than what we’re used to seeing.
Bad first touches, misjudging aerial duels, and a lot more stressful body movements were all witnessed. There wasn’t a lot of worry, since Barca usually find themselves gradually easing into the game sometimes. All they simply needed to do was take their time and limit any defensive mistakes, therefore limiting what Mallorca can do on the counter.
But unfortunately for Barca, they failed to execute one of those key points, as an unusual defensive mistake from Marc Andre Ter-Stegen led to the game’s opening goal.
Ter Stegen’s error leads to a goal
The first goal was a result of Ter-Stegen committing a very untimely error.
In what seemed like a routine instance of Ter-Stegen playing out of the back, his pass suddenly went to no one. The ball rolled into space, before being tracked down by a Mallorca attacker.
Once that happened, chaos ensued.
At first, the first pass was blocked by Ronald Araujo. But the blocked pass somehow fell back to the original attacker, where he then simply headed the ball to Vedat Muriqi, who then slid a shot pass Ter-Stegen and into the back of the net.
Sloppy, sloppy football from a usually sure handed Ter-Stegen there.
However, Barca did in fact find some positivity before halftime.
Raphinha with a screamer
Raphinha was everywhere throughout the first half, using his dribbling to create slithers of space and opening up avenues for others around him. His efforts didn’t lead to goals or assists, but they were encouraging signs in the midst of Barca struggling to keep their composure when going forward.
But his best effort of the night was all Barca needed to equalize, as his thunderous left footed effort slid past Mallorca’s keeper and into the back of the net.
Raphinha’s ball striking will remain one of his most attractive traits.
You can put a lot of pace on shots, but Raphinha’s able to do that while adding deadly accuracy in the process. This results in some crackers, like the one we saw in the first half.
However, Barca’s joy was short lived, as some more defensive miscues led to another conceded goal just before halftime.
Another wacky Mallorca goal
This goal was simply a combination of things out of Barca’s control, plus some wonderful skill by Muriqi.
Predrag Rajkovic executed a normal goal kick. But the outlier here was Muriqi, who lofted a gorgeous headed pass that skipped past Barca’s defense. Abdon Prats was the Mallorca player who seemingly found the ball, but he still had some work to do.
He had a Barca defender closing in, as well as Ter-Stegen raging forward as well.
Prats wasn’t fazed though. He simply gave the ball a touch, letting it go underneath the arms of Ter-Stegen, allowing it to safely cross Barca’s net.
It was a disastrous way to end the half for Barca, especially considering the equalizing goal they had just scored minutes before. They were lucky that there was another half remaining to fix their mess, but the mistakes defensively certainly weren’t wanted whatsoever.
As we went into the second half, there was some feelings of pessimism, but some added optimism as well.
Barca had made mistakes, but there was another half remaining, which meant ample time to find another equalizer and a potential winner. So how did Barca fare? Well, it wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t all good either.
The second half saw Barca control the game a *little* bit better.
There weren’t as many danger opportunities from Mallorca on the counter and Barca were able to tone down their fidgety nature in the attack.
These two factors led to Barca’s second goal, which was created by a unique set of faces.
Fermin Lopez off the mark in La Liga
The action started with Lamine Yamal, whose dribbling opened up some space for himself.
He then spotted a running Raphinha, whose well timed run allowed Yamal to easily slide a pass to him. Raphinha then tried to find the subbed on Robert Lewandowski. But the intelligent Polish star noticed Fermin Lopez holding down the space behind him. So Lewandowski simply put on a bit of a dummy, allowing the ball to find Lopez’s feet.
All Lopez had to do was score on an open net and that he did.
It was a good moment for Lopez, whose ascension continues at the club of his life.
He’ll be used more in the coming weeks certainly, as injuries have begun to run rampant in the midfield. Time will tell just how much time he’ll receive, but tonight was a good start nonetheless.
After this goal Barca desperately tried to find a winner, but to no avail. Barca dropped points playing Mallorca away, a first for the club since 2008.
This match will always be represented by what ifs. What if Ter-Stegen’s didn’t commit the error that led to the first goal? What if Ter-Stegen was able to save Prats’ shot that led to the second goal? What if the defense wasn’t so leaky?
What if Barca capitalized on two key chances that were missed (Raphinha’s 1v1 miss, Joao Felix’s shot hitting the post)? What if the penalty previously called for Barca, wasn’t overturned after a look at VAR?
So many what ifs, but no reason to dwell on them.
A shame, really.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be on Friday night at home against Sevilla.
See you all then!