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Five talking points from Barcelona 1-1 Alaves

The Catalans dropped points again

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barca’s problems continue under Barjuan

Sergi Barjuan took charge of Barcelona for the first time on Saturday but couldn’t find a win against Alaves as the Catalan giants dropped points yet again.

There were a few positive signs under the new boss initially as the team moved the ball much quicker and had Memphis Depay and Sergino Dest supplying the width.

Yet the same old failings were on view once again. The team struggled in front of goal yet again and conceded yet another soft goal from Alaves’s first shot on target.

It’s now three games without a win for Barca in La Liga that keeps the team down in ninth and eight points behind Real Madrid.

Barjuan will take charge once again on Tuesday against Dynamo Kiev but Barca will know they need to get a new manager in as quickly as possible.

Injuries piling up for Barca

FC Barcelona V Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Santander Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Barcelona went into Saturday’s match without seven first-team players due to injury and saw three more players forced off against Alaves.

Sergio Aguero left before half-time and was taken to hospital for a cardiac exam, Gerard Pique has a calf strain and Nico Gonzalez also asked to be replaced.

Reports after the match claimed that Pique has been playing with an injury since El Clasico which will raise more questions about Barca’s medical staff.

There were similar reports about Frenkie de Jong, while there have been suggestions Pedri suffered a relapse after being returned to action too soon.

It’s not clear yet who, if any, of Barca’s injured players will be back for the Dynamo Kiev clash but it will certainly be a depleted squad that flies out to Ukraine.

Garcia’s getting better

One player who is available and is quietly improving at Barcelona is Eric Garcia. The defender had a pretty torrid start but has looking far more settled in Barca’s last three games.

The 20-year-old was the pick of Barca’s defenders against Alaves, carrying the ball out from the back well and almost opening the scoring with a strong header.

Garcia’s improved form comes at a good time with Pique potentially set to miss some game time due to injury. It’s not clear when Ronald Araujo will be back but it will be good to see the two youngsters together when the Uruguayan is back to full fitness.

Pique’s injury does mean it’s likely that Clement Lenglet will get a rare start against Dynamo Kiev. The Frenchman came on as a substitute against Alaves and played the last 20 minutes.

Nico & Gavi show up Coutinho

Eric wasn’t the only Barca youngster to impress against Alaves. Midfielders Nico Gonzalez and Gavi also started and showed once again how hugely talented they both are.

Gavi’s touch and skill on the ball were sublime at times and he produced a brilliant run and pass to tee up Memphis for another chance which the Dutchman poked goalwards but saw hit the post.

There was also a delicious scooped pass to Jordi Alba which brought another sight of goal but the left-back couldn’t control the ball and the chance went begging.

Meanwhile, Nico simply picked up where he left off against Rayo with another stand-out performance. The 19-year-old is quickly making a very solid claim for a starting spot at Barcelona.

Both players easily outshone Philippe Coutinho who struggled after coming on in the first half. The Brazilian was whistled by supporters when he replaced Aguero and offered nothing but speculative shots that drifted far over the crossbar.

Memphis strike lights up half-empty Camp Nou

Barcelona’s only goal of the game came from the right boot of Memphis Depay. It was a pretty special effort from the Dutchman too who curled home from just outside the penalty area to make it 1-0.

It was a pretty special effort from Memphis and his first from open play from Barcelona since August which should given the Netherlands international something of a boost in confidence.

Memphis’s goal was seen by just 37,238 spectators at the Camp Nou as Barca recorded their lowest attendance for 20 years. There are some mitigating factors, Covid, it being a public holiday weekend, the lack of Messi, but it’s still a real concern to see such low numbers.

The forward was unlucky not to grab another when he hit the post but still seemed the only Barca player really likely to score after Aguero had gone off. Barca really need Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele back soon to offer more danger in the final third.