Disappointing end to dismal 2020
Barcelona’s draw against Eibar felt like a fitting end to what has been a troubled year at the Camp Nou both on and off the pitch.
The team were without captain Lionel Messi and it showed, while there were plenty of familiar problems on display once again.
The Barca defence generously gave up another goal, the attack missed too many chances, and big-money buys such as Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and Frenkie de Jong offered very little.
The draw also means that Barca’s hopes of winning the title now look a distant dream. Even Koeman admitted after the match it will be “very difficult”now for his team to catch Atletico.
Time to practice penalties?
Yet it could all have been so different if Martin Braithwaite had scored an early spot-kick after Ronald Araujo was fouled in the penalty area in the opening minutes.
With Messi missing the Denmark international stepped up and promptly dragged a poor effort wide of Marko Dmitrović’s post.
Barca’s penalty record this season now makes for pretty poor reading.
3 - Barcelona have missed more penalties than any other team in LaLiga this season (3), all three by different players: Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Martin Braithwaite. Strange. pic.twitter.com/MXbwlDQ2Hj— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 29, 2020
An early goal could have changed the whole complexion of the game. Barca did still create enough chances to win but they really can’t afford to be passing up opportunities like this.
Another defensive mistake costs Barca
It was certainly an eventful night for Araujo who handed Eibar the opening goal on a plate after yet another defensive mistake.
It was an unfortunate moment for Araujo who has looked good so far this season and clearly has a big future ahead of him. Young players will make mistakes, and learn from them, but there’s no doubt individual errors continue to cost Barca this season.
4 - Barcelona have made more errors leading to goals than any other team in LaLiga this season (4), all four made by different players: Neto Murara, Marc-André ter Stegen, Clément Lenglet and Ronald Araujo. Nerves. pic.twitter.com/bEiURObrxj— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 29, 2020
Araujo does deserve credit for not letting the mistake affect him afterwards and also for fronting up after the game. The defender faced the media afterwards and swiftly took responsibility for the goal.
Dembele offers hope
There were few positives to take from Tuesday’s performance but the main one was the sight of Ousmane Dembele back in action for Barcelona once again.
The Frenchman came off the bench at half-time to replace Sergino Dest and certainly made a difference to the Barcelona attack.
Dembele missed a pretty good chance before he equalized with a well-taken goal, his fifth of the season, and also caught the eye with a rabona cross
Of course question marks remain over whether he can stay injury-free this season, but this was certainly another encouraging performance from the 23-year-old on his return to the side after several weeks out.
More injury misery for Coutinho
Yet it was another difficult night for Coutinho who started on the bench again for Barcelona but did came on for the final part of the game. However, the Brazilian did not last the 90 minutes after picking up a knee injury.
It’s not clear exactly how long Coutinho will be out for but it’s certainly a bad blow for the 28-year-old who has already missed a chunk of the season with a hamstring problem and has fallen out of favor after a bright start to the 2020-21 campaign. Might Coutinho’s injury offer Riqui Puig the chance of more game time?