Deportivo La Coruna dealt Barcelona’s title hopes a blow as their ran out 2-1 victors at the Estadio Riazo
Joselu opened the scoring in the 7th minute only for Luis Suarez to score the equaliser for the visitors in the second half, but Barcelona conceded yet another goal from a corner when Alex Bergantinos scored the winner for the hosts.
It is a hugely disappointing result for Barcelona who simply never got going on the night and Pepe Mel’s Deportivo, who are one place above the relegation zone, deserved to win the match after a fine, resolute performance.
In a hotly contested La Liga title race, Barcelona faltered at a time when they needed to keep the pressure up and with Real Madrid’s victory over Betis later on, it means Barcelona have now dropped to second in the La Liga having played one game more than their bitter rivals. We take a look at the key talking points from the match.
Neymar was sorely missed
Neymar missed out on the match due to a thigh problem and his absence was keenly felt by Luis Enrique’s side. The Brazilian superstar has been one of Barcelona’s best players in recent weeks despite struggling to score goals this season and his creativity were exactly what Barcelona needed.
No player has completed more dribbles than Neymar for Barcelona this season, and the forward’s wizard-like skills are hugely useful in matches like this, where the Catalans look tired and out of ideas.
Although the problem is not a serious one according to reports, Enrique will be hoping his star man can quickly recover from the thigh problem as he will need all hands on deck following last night’s result.
No exaggeration to say that, as of late, Neymar has single-handedly done more offensively and defensively than Arda and Gomes combined today
— Sameer Riyaz (@SameerRiyaz13) March 12, 2017
Barcelona suffering from heroics of PSG victory?
Barcelona’s victory over PSG in the UEFA Champions League last week was the stuff of legends and will go down in the history books as one of the greatest comebacks of all time. Many expected that to be the result that would fire them to glory in all competitions, but last night told a different tale.
The Catalans looked completely flat and out of ideas and despite trying hard, they simply looked like they were mentally drained from their magical comeback effort. Barcelona need to show the same kind of character they did against the Parisians if they want to win the title this year, and their performance last night was the opposite of that.
Wednesday: Barcelona 6-1 PSG 😃
Sunday: Deportivo 2-1 Barcelona ☹️
That escalated quickly
— Leo Messi (@messi10stats) March 12, 2017
Luis Enrique’s flaws stand out in the match
There is no doubt that Luis Enrique is a brilliant manager and Barcelona’s heroics against PSG showed that, but last night’s match highlighted exactly why Barcelona fans have been calling for him to leave.
Enrique’s tactics are often not flexible enough in games like this and he has had trouble inspiring this Barcelona side in the La Liga on several occasions this season. Despite Barcelona clearly having trouble keeping the ball, Enrique did not attempt to change things up.
Speaking after the PSG match, Enrique said that the result would not change his decision to leave and it is perhaps the best thing for the club that he feels that way, given last night’s performance against Deportivo.
It was all Luis Enrique’s fault not to play Messi today, man is bigger than football how could you leave him on the bench? 👀😭
— Omar 👑 (@OMAR_CR7_) March 12, 2017
Samuel Umtiti’s surprising record continues
Samuel Umtiti has been a huge success this season after signing for Barcelona from Lyon. Umtiti was not expected to settle into the Catalans’ defence so quickly but he has shown exactly why Barcelona paid good money for him.
The French international was missing last night and his composure and his intelligence combined with ability in the air was keenly felt, especially from the corner kicks that Barcelona conceded both goals from. The stat shown below highlights just how important Umtiti has become to this side.
Barcelona in #LaLiga this season:
With Samuel Umtiti: WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
Without Samuel Umtiti: LDWLWDDDDDL
Key to their success. 👊pic.twitter.com/cjrV5hLLiz
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 12, 2017
Title race gets more interesting every week
Barcelona have not been at their best this season and despite Madrid continuing their unbeaten run from last year well into this one, Zinedine Zidane’s side have not looked particularly fearsome this season either.
Both teams have glaring weaknesses and have looked nervy at times this season and while this will certainly trouble their fans, it has made the title race this season extremely interesting for neutrals.
It has only been made more dramatic by Luis Enrique’s announcement that he will leave at the end of the season and we are definitely in store for several ups and downs as the season progresses.