Dani Alves' mistake in the eighth minute led to Malaga's goal; a goal that would end up becoming the game-winner, as FC Barcelona lost 0-1 at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Overall, Barcelona looked flat, lacked creativity, and where unable to produce anything special on the night.
Dani Alves may have cost himself a contract renewal with his mistake. No, it's not the sole reason Barcelona lost, but his error was another example of how he continues to be a liability for this team as well as how his game is not nor even will be what it once was. Since they cannot sign anyone until January 2016, Barça may need to sign Dani for one more season. But is Martin Montoya that much worse than Dani Alves? Come on now. If Barcelona decided to bring on a new right-back like Porto's Danilo next year, Martin Montoya can't fill in at RB for the first half of the season? Will Montoya stay at FCB? What about Adriano? Can Adriano be a better fit at RB for a while? Can Barça B's Patric be a capable back-up RB with the first squad? Many questions needing to be answered in order to determine what happens at the RB position between now and the day Barcelona can sign a player.
The linesman was simply atrocious in the game. But let's be clear, he was not the sole reason Barcelona didn't get a win or a draw. Yes, the fact that he got so many calls wrong is absurd, horrible, and makes one question if he had an agenda against Barcelona, but his calls were not the reason Barça were flat and couldn't find good shots at goal. Sorry, but let's be fair.
For the first time in many matches, Lionel Messi had an off night. Not that Leo needs to score hat tricks every game (although that would be nice), but Messi was due to have a subpar game. That's not an excuse for Barcelona—with the talent, experience, and skill their players have—to lose at home after having six days off to rest and prepare. Neymar and Luis Suarez were unable to contribute due to Malaga's defense as well as both Ney and Luis having a subpar game.
I'm not going to go on a Luis Enrique rant. After winning 11 games in a row, Lucho can't be completely ripped apart with a bad game by his players-not to mention a Malaga side that knows how to play against this Barça team. Lucho made the right substitutions, in my opinion, with Pedro to attack (Andres Iniesta was off), Ivan Rakitic at midfield, and Javier Mascherano to defend and try to attack. I know I have been tough on Lucho, and despite the loss, I'm not going to rip Luis Enrique today because I don't believe this loss is on him. It's on the players.
Some will say Lucho deserves the blame because he didn't have a tactic to stop the parked bus by Malaga. Didn't we do this with Tata Martino, Jordi Roura, and even Pep Guardiola when they were the Barça manager? So when does it become the players' fault?
I understand trying to break down a "parked bus" is difficult, but it has been done before. Crossing the ball 48 times as Barcelona did against Malaga (most since 2005-06) is not a good thing. The midfield is key to breaking down a parked bus, and Barcelona's midfield didn't do enough to help out. The forwards weren't doing much better either. It was a recipe for a loss.
May I add that it was frustrating to see some of the Barça players standing in one spot, waiting for someone else to make a move in order to make a play happen. Part of defeating a parked bus is consistent movement, not just standing in one spot nor standing in the middle of said bus. You have to try and "pull" the defender(s) with you in order to open up space for you and/or your teammates.
Malaga knew their only shot at winning this road game for them was with tremendous counterattacking and an even greater defense. Mission accomplished. Alves' mistake gave Malaga the goal they needed, and from there, it was all about smothering the Barça players with defense. Yes, it was "parking the bus" on defense, but we cannot say Malaga didn't want to go for more goals. There were plenty of opportunities on the counterattack that could've extended the Malaga lead. A better team would've scored a goal on those counterattacks, nevertheless, Malaga played the match they wanted to, and deserved the win. Sorry, but it happens.
The Barcelona midfield wasn't good in the game. Rafinha wasn't bad, but he wasn't that good either. Sergio Busquets was OK. But Andres Iniesta had an awful game. Bad passes, had no rhythm, and quite frankly, looked terrible on the night. Hope to see a better Don Andres in the Champions League, because an effective Iniesta will be needed.
Is La Liga over? Of course not, but Real Madrid is in the driver's seat, and things just got more complicated for Barcelona.
No more time to ponder this 0-1 loss to Malaga anymore. It happened, it's disappointing, but now, it's time to move on and think about the Champions League and Manchester City.
We can only hope that the only positive result from Barcelona's loss in La Liga is that it will fuel Barça even more on Tuesday night in Manchester.