FC Barcelona struggled to a win over lowly Granada at Los Carmenes, with the solitary goal coming from Xavi Hernandez. Xavi scored a 25-yard free-kick and aside from that, the Blaugrana did not pose a significant threat to Roberto's goal. Not only that, but Pedro had to be taken off injured, with a suspected ankle ligament injury.
Surprisingly, Pep Guardiola chose to rest David Villa for the visit to Granada, leaving Lionel Messi on the team-sheet, despite calls for the Argentine to be rested. Isaac Cuenca became the 47th player to play under Pep Guardiola in his La Liga tenure, and started on left-wing in a 4-3-3 formation for FC Barcelona.
The game started quickly enough, with Uche picking up a booking within the first five minutes. Lionel Messi was played through on the fourth minute, but was leaning offside at the time. He still seems off the mark, yet Guardiola continues to play him.
Messi had the first shot, bending an effort wide from the edge of the area, and Isaac Cuenca swiftly followed suit, though his effort was a little worse than La Pulga’s. Xavi tested Roberto with a decent long-range effort on the 20 minute mark, though no Barcelona player was following up on the rebound.
Pedro had a free header from less than 10 yards out, but he could not hit the target. Barcelona seemed a little lethargic, but Granada were not posing any threat. Then they were hit by their own stupidity.
Jaime Romero made an unnecessary challenge that resulted in a free-kick 25 yards from goal in a central position. Xavi stepped up and bent it into the corner of the net. A world-class strike by El Maestro, though in truth, Barcelona’s play had not warranted a goal. The remaining ten minutes of the half passed without any real incident, and while the Blaugrana had a half-time lead, it was less than convincing stuff. Then again, three points is three points...
The second half was much like the first, with much less chances. However, Granada continued to shoot themselves in the foot with their naivety. Jaime Romero picked up a second yellow for a high foot of all offenses. Such a silly suspension for Granada to deal with.
Pedro was tackled shortly after, and in the process, rolled his ankle. It was a poor challenge, but the referee did not stop play, and when Pedro went off on a stretcher, it was clear he had made the wrong decision. Initial observations from the medical team show no break, but further tests will be carried out tomorrow. Barcelona will be without another key player for a few weeks at least.
One hour on the clock, and none of Barcelona’s front three had registered a shot on target. Then, Roberto cleared the ball poorly, and straight to David Villa. El Guaje picked out Lionel Messi, and bearing down on goal Messi lifted the ball over Roberto, but Mainz got back to clear the ball off the line. A game-saving intervention, though one can’t help but think that Messi should have scored, and was the fatigue the reason why he didn’t?
Xavi fed in Isaac Cuenca on 70 minutes, but the youngster could only fire straight at Roberto. Least Barca had a shot on target from their attackers...
David Villa continued his poor form with a string of poor passes and average shots, though more worryingly, Lionel Messi has now gone over eight hours without scoring away from home in La Liga. Ballon D’Or or not, he needs a rest or something.
Granada were reduced to nine men in injury time with Dani Benitez showing petulance by kicking the ball away after an offside decision went against him. That will rule him out of the derby match with Sevilla at the weekend.
Man of the match goes to Xavi, just for the free-kick, and honestly, the whole team was just average. It was not pretty, but it was three points. For that, we cannot complain.
Onto Saturday, and the visit of Real Mallorca. Visca el Barca!