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Poor Barça Play + Tata's Questionable Decisions = Frustration in a 1-1 Draw

FC Barcelona got a disappointing 1-1 draw at Levante on Sunday night. In this article, Xoel Cárdenas gives you his take on the game, Xavi's good performance, Alexis Sanchez's struggles, Tata Martino's poor decisions, and what's next for Barça.

Messi facepalm.
Messi facepalm.
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

FC Barcelona got a disappointing 1-1 draw at Levante on Sunday night.

Levante opened the scoring in the 10th minute as once again a set piece hurt Barça. A corner kick led to Loukas Vyntra heading the ball in to give the home side the 1-0 lead. Gerard Piqué tied it up in the 19th minute as a Xavi corner kick found the head of Mr. Shakira who put it in for the equalizer.

For the most part, Barcelona dominated the game. They had more plays toward goal, more possession, and more goal-scoring opportunities, including a few chances for Lionel Messi. Nevertheless, Barcelona was not able to get the one goal they needed, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. This was a game that Barcelona wished they would have had Andres Iniesta and his creative playmaking skills in the game.

Let's get to the Best, Worst, and What We Learned from this game.

The Best: Xavi and Victor Valdes

For me, Xavi Hernandez was the best player for FC Barcelona on the night. He was the calming presence in the midfield, and with no Andres Iniesta, Xavi stepped up and was a bit more aggressive than usual. Victor Valdes had a good game as well. VV made solid stops on the few times Levante attacked, including a big stop late in the game.

The Worst: Alexis Sanchez

Alexis had a very poor game against Levante. He was not timing his runs well, thus he had many offside calls against him. He struggled to control the ball, which was odd because that's normally one of his strengths. There were many other Barça players that struggled as well, but Alexis was the most disappointing. At least Pedro created more opportunities on offense. I hope Alexis shakes this off, because with no Neymar for three more weeks, Barcelona needs the Chilean to step up.

What We Learned: Tata Martino made some very questionable moves, and for that, he deserves to be criticized.

I know I come off as a know-it-all Barça columnist, but I'm just giving you my opinion. And in my opinion, Tata Martino made some poor decisions in this game. The first poor decision by Tata was the substitution of Cesc Fabregas in the 73rd minute. Sergi Roberto was going to come into the game, but logic would tell you that Sergi should come in for the older Xavi, despite him having a good game. But Tata decided to take out Cesc, who as he was sitting down on the bench, slammed his hand on the bench cover in frustration. Cesc said after the game, "Mad after substitution? I was frustrated about how the game was going." After the game, Tata address the Cesc issue. "Cesc sub? I thought with Xavi, Busquets we had enough players who could start the action. And Cesc had played 5 games, he could get tired."

I understand what you're saying, Tata, but when you're on top of La Liga and have Altetico Madrid and Real Madrid at your heels; you go for the win with your best players, period! Cesc might have been very tired after the game, but he was playing well, and he would have given Barcelona a better chance to win the game than Sergi Roberto-with all due respect to Sergi.

Tata's next questionable move was when he brought in Cristian Tello for Pedro and not for Alexis. I have no problem with bringing in Tello, but to take out Pedro instead of Alexis Sanchez-who was dreadful-is ridiculous! I understand the argument that you take out Pedro because he was the LW, and Tello is a LW. But the simple solution is to take out Alexis, move Tello to the LW spot, and move Pedro to the RW position-a position Pedro has played many times. Again, forget the rotation, you go for the win with your best players.

I respect you, Tata, but these were poor decisions, in my opinion. And for those poor decisions, all Culés have the right to question and criticize your decisions. It's not that we don't respect you; it's just that we have high expectations for this team, especially against a weaker Liga team like Levante. It's business, not personal.

What's Next?: Wednesday at Levante in Copa del Rey quarterfinals

Barcelona continues their quest to be the Spanish Cup kings as they will go back to Valencia and face Levante once again, but this time, it's the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final match-up. Don't expect Tata Martino to change the lineup too much for this game. Marc Bartra may get a start as well as Alex Song. Perhaps Cristian Tello deserves a start to give either Pedro or Alexis a bit of rest, and then come in as a substitute.

Xoel's Final Word

It was a frustrating game to watch as FC Barcelona had possession, had more opportunities, but in the end, El Blaugrana slips up with a 1-1 draw against Levante.

We'll see Levante again in just a few days in Copa action. Hopefully, Barcelona will take out their frustration of Sunday with a dominating win on Wednesday.

A special "Thank You" goes to Sevilla, as they helped out Barcelona by getting the 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid. With Atleti's draw, FC Barcelona remains on top of La Liga!

The second half of the La Liga season has begun. Step it up, Tata Martino and all of FC Barcelona.

It's not like La Liga is going to get any easier.


Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona

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