Barcelona were beaten for the second time this season, with Granada handing them a shock 2-0 loss at Los Carmenes on Saturday.
Granada took just 63 seconds to grab a foothold in the game as Ramon Azeez headed in from point-blank range following a mistake by Junior Firpo. Thereafter, Barcelona dominated possession, but failed to trouble their hosts at any point for the remainder of the first half.
Ernesto Valverde threw on Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati at half-time in an attempt to spark a comeback. But, the visitors lacked any sort of bite and were, in fact, fortunate not to have let in another goal after Marc-Andre ter Stegen spilled a cross.
The game was then put to bed midway through the second half when Arturo Vidal handled the ball inside the Barcelona box. Alvaro Vadillo stepped up to take the resulting penalty, making no mistake in converting from the spot. And, in what was an embarrassing stat for Barcelona, their first, and only, shot on target came with eight minutes left in regulation time.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 21, 2019
With that Barcelona suffered their second defeat of the season, just five games into the La Liga campaign. And, having failed to win any of their last seven games on the road in all competitions, the pressure is mounting on Valverde. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over his charges.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 5/10
A frustrating evening for ter Stegen, who stood no chance in stopping either of the goals that Granada scored on Saturday. The first looped over his head after a deflection from Gerard Pique, leaving Ramon Azeez with an open goal to score into.
Would have liked to repeat his heroics from the Borussia Dortmund game, but stood no chance against Alvaro Vadillo’s penalty. Nearly let in a third when he made an uncharacteristic error while collecting a cross, but luckily collected the spilled ball before Roberto Soldado could have pounced.
Nelson Semedo: 4/10
Another opportunity at right-back. Another display that suggested that Sergi Roberto needs to be looked at as an alternative. Struggled all night long against the double threat of Darwin Machis and Carlos Neva and should have tracked Azeez’s run for Granada’s opening goal. And, as is usually the case, he offered nothing substantial in the final third. Continues to falter.
Gerard Pique: 5/10
Individually there was very little to fault Pique against Granada. But, the fact that the Barcelona defence continues to stumble game after game has to come down to the veteran defender as it is his primary responsibility to organise the backline and keep it disciplined, which is not the case presently.
Clement Lenglet: 5/10
Unlike his partner at the heart of the Barcelona defence, Lenglet did have his fair share of struggles on the night. The Frenchman was troubled all through the game by Soldado and floundered in pretty much ever aerial battle. Needs to step up.
Junior Firpo: 4/10
A horrific full debut for Junior Firpo, who made a couple of errors in the lead-up to Granada’s first goal. Firpo first lost the ball to Soldado before slipping to let Antonio Puertas have a clear run and cross the ball into the box. While he pushed on after catastrophe struck, the damage had been done and he was taken off at half-time. A missed opportunity at a time when Jordi Alba is injured.
Ivan Rakitic: 5/10
In the absence of Sergio Busquets, it was up to Rakitic to add steel to the Barcelona midfield. But, the necessary solidity was nowhere to be seen, with the Croat also doing little of note when moving forward and striking little understanding with de Jong and Roberto. Take off after an hour for Arturo Vidal.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Frenkie de Jong was perhaps, the only positive to have emerged out of a disastrous result for Barcelona. Sitting in the middle of the park, de Jong drove Barcelona forward and set the tempo of the game rather well. But, at the end of the day, that was as much as he could have done, with those in front of him lacking ideas.
Sergi Roberto: 4/10
In what was yet another opportunity in the middle of the park for Roberto, the Spaniard failed to deliver again. A hesitant customer off the ball whenever Granada pressed forward, Roberto also added no substance when moving into advanced positions.
Moved into the right-back slot post the break and looked much more at home there. The debate surrounding his ideal position is set to rage on after yet another performance wherein he did not look at home in the middle of the park.
Carles Perez: 5/10
With Lionel Messi still not fully fit, Perez had another chance to make an impression on Valverde. But, the young winger, while having a lot of drive to create an impact, had little end product to make a notable difference when Barcelona needed to pull things level with Granada. Hooked off at half-time for Messi.
Luis Suarez: 4/10
Back to the familiar surroundings of La Liga, it was reckoned that Suarez would put his typical Champions League struggles behind him. But, the star striker continued in the same vein as the midweek fixtures, struggling to impose himself on the Granada defence. Suarez’s early season struggles are starting to become a trend now, which has to be worrying for Barcelona.
Antoine Griezmann: 4/10
The Coutinho conundrum seems to be the case with Griezmann as well, with Valverde playing him in positions that do not suit him best. Deployed on the left flank in the first half, the Frenchman did not look comfortable at all and flitted out of the game quickly. Moved to the right post the break, Griezmann continued in pretty much the same way and was unable to influence the proceedings.
Ansu Fati: 6/10
Ansu Fati played for just 45 minutes. But, in just half a game, the teenage prodigy did more than just about every Barcelona star who was on the field all through the ninety. Fati provided the spark that the visitors were sorely missing and did not hesitate in taking on the opposition defenders. But, it just wasn’t to be for him and Barcelona on the night.
Lionel Messi: 6/10
Introduced at half-time, Messi posed a lot of problems for the Granada defence even though he was clearly not fully fit. The Argentinean maestro also had the La Liga champions’ only shot on target in the game and consistently posed more danger than Suarez and Griezmann. Worrying signs for Barcelona if Messi is still one of the better players in the team while being well off his best.
Arturo Vidal: 4/10
On for Rakitic for the final half hour, Vidal made a decisive impact mere moments after being subbed on, although it was hardly the kind of impact he would have liked to make. His first touch in the game was with his hand and Granada converted the resulting penalty to clinch the tie. Struggled to inspire a turnaround thereafter.