Ernesto Valverde can be really confusing
Barcelona headed to the Wanda Metropolitano to face Atletico Madrid in what was undoubtedly their biggest La Liga game of the season so far.
So what did Ernesto Valverde do? He threw Andre Gomes into the starting line-up and changed formation to a 4-4-2.
Quite what Gomes had actually done to warrant starting against Atletico is a mystery and the move did not pay off, particularly in the first half when Gomes was pretty awful.
Yes he improved after the break, when Barca switched to a 4-3-3, but you wonder what Denis Suarez, who didn’t even get a look-in, and Gerard Deulofeu, left on the bench, made of it all.
Meanwhile, Valverde’s substitutions then actually helped turn the game, Sergi Roberto crossing for Luis Suarez to snatch the equaliser.
Barcelona were not actually that bad
There was a lot of doom and gloom after the game yesterday, but in hindsight while Barcelona were not at their best, they really were not that bad. And let’s not forget the mileage players like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have put it this week due to international duty.
Once again it took another superb strike from Saul Niguez to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and the goalkeeper showed his class yet again denying Antoine Griezmann brilliantly on a couple of occasions.
It was another strong performance from Samuel Umtiti too, and while the attack still looks disjointed, it really does take something special to beat the defence at present.
Barca also showed real fight to come back from a goal down away to Atletico, and as the game wore on they looked the more likely side to win it.
Is Suarez finally showing signs of life?
Luis Suarez continues to struggle for form but his late equaliser proved he can still provide a vital contribution, even when below his best.
The Uruguayan scored twice in midweek in a 4-2 win over Bolivia, but once again still looked to be lacking sharpness in front of goal.
It remains to be seen how much his knee injury is actually bothering him, but his goals for club and country over the last week can hopefully help improve his confidence.
Barca still look massively over-reliant on Messi to provide inspiration and Suarez has suffered the most from the departure of Neymar and the injury to Ousmane Dembele, but is he finally on his way back?
Time to drop Rakitic?
Ivan Rakitic is having an erratic campaign, of that there is no doubt, but Saturday’s game is probably not one he will want to remember fondly.
The Croatian seemed to slow Barca down whenever he had the ball and it was little surprise Barca looked most dangerous when he had been replaced.
To make matters worse for Rakitic, Roberto provided a match-winning contribution when he came on while Paulinho added drive and bite to the midfield.
Rakitic is doing little to justify his place in the starting XI at the moment, but will Valverde bench him, and who should come in?