Barcelona continue their inconsisent run of results in La Liga thanks to a 1-1 draw away to Alavés on Saturday. Barça conceded a bizarre goal in the first half, brought the pressure and created many chances in the second, but couldn’t find the game-winner and dropped points in the league again.
Barça made a nice start to the game, passing the ball well and pressing with intensity to get it back, while Alavés tried to sit tight and defend their box and hopefully create danger on the counter. But their defense didn’t really play well early on and Barça had two giant chances, one for Ansu Fati and another for Antoine Griezmann, but both missed them badly.
Lionel Messi had a free-kick cleared off the line by Lejeune, and then Barça unraveled: after a terrible mistake by Neto, who couldn’t control the ball after receiving a pass from Gerard Piqué, Luis Rioja stole the ball inside the box and passed it to an open net to give Alavés the lead. As it’s usually the case away from home, Barça lost control and looked desperate with the ball, and easily became frustrated with refereeing decisions.
At halftime, Barça were losing and not looking like a team ready to make a comeback, and Ronald Koeman needed to find a way to rally the troops in the dressing room.
Koeman acted at halftime, making three substitutions to make the team more attacking and intense, and they clearly worked as Barça brought a barrage of pressure into the Alavés box, forcing the hosts into desperate, last-minute challenges to avoid conceding.
With 25 minutes to go, Griezmann scored to equalize just one minute after Jota Peteleiro was shown a red card, and Barça had the opportunity to play against 10 men for the rest of the game. Griezmann actually have Barça the lead with 20 minutes left, but the goal was disallowed for offside on Francisco Trincão.
Barça kept on attacking and trying to create but they were too central and players kept running into each other, which ruined a few good attacking moves. But in the final 10 minutes, the Blaugrana started finding spaces and created some really big chances, and Fernando Pacheco made a couple of impressive saves to keep Alavés alive.
Injury time was filled with game-saving blocks and deflections by Alavés defenders, and the final whistle came to end a hard-fought battle and share the points. Barça created enough to win, but they paid for a crucial mistake in the first half and loads of missed chances. It just wasn’t their night.
Alavés: Pacheco; Navarro (Martín 40’), Laguardia, Lejeune, Duarte; Battaglia; Méndez (Tavares 58’), Pina (Marín 72’), Jota, Rioja (García 72’); Deyverson (Joselu 58’)
Goal: Rioja (31’)
Red Card: Jota (62’)
Barcelona: Neto; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet (Pedri 46’), Alba (Dest 68’); Busquets (Pjanic 46’), De Jong; Dembélé (Trincão 46’), Messi, Fati (Braithwaite 77’); Griezmann
Goal: Griezmann (63’)