Quique Setien got off to a winning start in his first game as Barcelona manager on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Granada. Lionel Messi netted the only goal of the game on 76 minutes to send the champions back to the top of the table.
The new manager’s starting XI made for interesting reading with Samuel Umtiti preferred to Clement Lenglet in defence, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets making up the midfield and Ansu Fati coming in for Luis Suarez in attack.
Barcelona played some good football in the first half and dominated possession but didn’t create too many clear-cut chances. Ansu Fati blazed a shot over the bar and somehow failed to connect with the ball at the far post after a cross from Jordi Alba.
Meanwhile, the Camp Nou thought Lionel Messi has scored just before half-time when he connected with Alba’s cut-back but drilled a shot inches wide of the post. The stats revealed the influence of Setien at half-time. Barca attempted 508 passes in the opening 45 minutes but only came up with two shots on target.
There was more of the same after the break, although Barcelona had a let-off when Yan Eteki let fly and saw his effort beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen but smash against the bottom of the post.
The game then swung in Barca’s favour when German Sanchez was sent off for a foul on Messi that earned him his second booking. Setien also brought on Riqui Puig for Ivan Rakitic and the youngster’s arrival gave the team a spark for the final 20 minutes.
Messi won it on 76 minutes with a cool finish from inside the box. Puig kicked things off by winning the ball back high up the pitch, Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal then did well to tee up Messi to secure all three points.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic (Puig), Busquets, Vidal (Arthur); Messi, Griezmann, Ansu (Perez).
Goal: Messi (76’)
Granada: Silva; Ruiz, Duarte, Sanchez, Foulquier; Eteki (Martinez), Gonalons; Vadillo (Puertas), Azeez (Herrera), Machis; Fernandez.