The last La Liga match of the season had a similar feel for Barcelona fans: poor play, bad defending, some luck, and a lot of Lionel Messi. The Blaugrana totally deserved to lose the league finale away to Eibar, but the greatest player of all time scored twice in 60 seconds to save his team from losing and finish their championship campaign with 87 points.
Eibar started the game as the dominant force, using possession well and creating a crazy amount of chances in the first 20 minutes that forced Jasper Cillessen into a few key saves. Barça had a few good moments on the counter, but Jordi Alba always made a bad decision on the final pass despite finding himself in great attacking positions.
The home team deserved to score, and they did on a hilarious play: after a cross from Cote on the left, Gerard Piqué slipped inside the box and the ball found Barça loanee Marc Cucurella, who fired a powerful shot that hit Cillessen’s leg and found the back of the net. Eibar increased the pressure even more after scoring, while Barça showed zero creativity on the final third and constantly gave the ball away.
And then, in one amazing minute, Barça turned the game completely around: first Arturo Vidal played a gorgeous pass through to Lionel Messi, who easily scored the equalizer; then right from kickoff, Barça recovered the ball, Ivan Rakitic played a great pass in space to put Messi alone in front of goal, and the captain chipped the keeper to give the visitors a shocking 2-1 lead.
Eibar were not deflated by the sudden change of events and continued to press high and try to create chances, and they found an equalizer right before halftime in another hilarious play: Cillessen cleared a long ball from Eibar with his head at the edge of the box but was slow to get back to his goal, and Pablo De Blasis decided to try a shot from 35 yards to see if he could catch Cillessen of guard. It worked. Incredible goal, and Eibar were back in the game.
At halftime, a very entertaining match for the neutrals was all square, and Barça had 45 minutes to leave some kind of good impression in the season finale.
There wasn’t much action in the second half. Eibar continued to be the team with more intent and hunger on the pitch, and their press kept causing problems for the Barça defense. But they weren’t as good at creating chances, and Cillessen didn’t really have much work to do for most of the period.
Barça weren’t good at all in the second half, struggling to beat the press and find good passes in the final third. They also allowed Eibar some dangerous counter attacks, and in one of them Cucurella had a giant chance to give his team the lead but somehow sent a shot from eight yards into the stands.
That ended up being the only real chance of the final period, and the final whistle came to end a very depressing 90 minutes for the champions. If this is what we’re seeing in the Copa del Rey Final, congratulations to Valencia!
Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo (Wagué), Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets (Aleñá), Rakitic; Roberto, Messi, Malcom (Pérez)
Goals: Messi (31’, 32’)
Eibar: Dmitrovic; De Blasis, Oliveira, Ramis (Álvarez), Cote; Orellana, Escalante, Jordán, Cucurella; Enrich (Kike), Charles (Cardona)
Goals: Cucurella (20’), De Blasis (45’)