Barcelona waste golden opportunity
Barca headed into Sunday’s match fresh from a demoralizing defeat to PSG but with renewed impetus after seeing Atletico drop points on Saturday. Here was the chance to cut the gap to six points and reignite hopes of an unlikely title charge.
Instead Barcelona shot themselves in the foot for what feels like the umpteenth time, conceding a late equalizer to hand Cadiz a draw that feels more like a defeat.
The stats tell the story of the game. Barca had 81% possession, 21 shots on goal but only scored once and that came from the penalty spot. Meanwhile, Cadiz scored with their only effort on target which was enough for a point.
More Messi Milestones
There are very few positives to take from Sunday’s match but it’s worth mentioning that Lionel Messi is now the player with the most appearances for Barca in La Liga after making his 506th outing.
Leo #Messi in #BarçaCádiz:— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 22, 2021
Surpassed Xavi for most @LaLigaEN games in Barça history (506)
Scored his 1st goal against Cádiz, the 38th different La Liga team he has scored against
Scored his 16th goal this season, tied with Luis Suárez for most in La Liga pic.twitter.com/509kYeWW22
Messi crowned the occasion with a very nonchalant penalty to make Cadiz the 38th team he’s scored against in La Liga and move level with old pal Luis Suarez at the top of the Pichichi standings.
The penalty came after Pedri, who was probably Barca’s best player until he was withdrawn, was felled in the penalty area after being sandwiched by two Cadiz defenders.
It wasn’t vintage Messi on Sunday by any means but he’s in good goalscoring form and has now scored in six league games in a row for the first time since February 2019.
Lenglet hits a new low
When it comes to negatives there were plenty on show, but there’s no doubt that Clement Lenglet cost his team two points with yet another awful mistake. The Frenchman has had a poor season but reached a new low by giving away a completely unnecessary penalty in the 89th minute from which Cadiz equalized.
The visitors had barely threatened throughout the match, but Barca’s failure to score a second goal had left them vulnerable to an equalizer. Lenglet’s now given away three penalties this season, and the decision to hand him a contract extension that runs until 2026 in October is looking questionable at best.
Individual mistakes have been a problem all season for Barca, and Koeman will surely be praying that Ronald Araujo is back from injury soon. Lenglet looks to have lost his nerve completely and probably any faith Koeman had left in him.
Barcelona need a goalscorer
Barcelona’s problems aren’t just at the back though. The team should have been out of sight by the time Lenglet was gifting Cadiz a draw. Frenkie de Jong and Pedri both saw efforts ruled out for offside, Antoine Griezmann wasted two good chances, while goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma made a series of decent saves.
Koeman’s side remain La Liga’s top goalscorers in 2020-21, with 50 goals from 23 games, but you have to wonder how many more they would have had if they could convert more of their chances.
There’s been plenty of talk about Erling Haaland in the build-up to the game, and the Dortmund ace was at it again at the weekend with a brace against Schalke.
Meanwhile, Barca were struggling to score against a team that had conceded 15 goals in their last four matches and were left to rue their missed chances and the club’s inability to bring in a new No. 9 yet again.
Koeman facing crucial three weeks
Ronald Koeman admitted he was more disappointed by the result against Cadiz that Tuesday’s defeat to PSG and now faces a crucial few weeks in charge of the Catalan giants.
Sunday’s draw suggests Barca should forget all about winning La Liga and must really concentrate on trying to mount comebacks in the Copa del Rey and Champions League. The tie against PSG looks pretty much done, but Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Monaco may offer Barca some hope.
Barca’s semi-final second leg against Copa del Rey still remains the club’s best chance of silverware, but the team will need to improve their form quickly. The Catalans have now won just one of their last four games in all competitions and need to get back to winning ways.
And then there’s the presidential elections on March 7. Joan Laporta remains the favorite to win and has already hinted that the Dutchman’s future at the club will be “determined by results and performances” - and surely won’t have been too impressed by Barca’s recent run.