Barcelona are now almost certainly out of the title race in La Liga after failing to go top of the table for at least 24 hours thanks to a horrible 3-3 draw against Levante on Tuesday night. After earning a solid two-goal lead in the first half, the Blaugrana conceded three times in the final period and Ronald Koeman had one of the worst coaching performances in recent memory to cost Barça two points and pretty much guarantee they will not win the title this season.
Barça made a fast start to the game, with two big chances in the first five minutes with combinations between Frenkie De Jong and Pedri, but Pedri missed both chances and the Blaugrana couldn’t get an early goal.
Then the game slowed down a lot with neither team capable of hurting the other, and Levante were comfortable parking the bus which didn’t help the fun aspect either. Slowly but surely, however, Barça started finding spaces to counter attack as the home team looked to go forward a bit more, and both Ousmane Dembélé and Jordi Alba became real problems on the wings which led to goals for Barça.
The first goal came from a nice buildup down the left side and Alba’s cross was deflected at the near post and went over all the Levante defenders to find Lionel Messi all alone at the edge of the area. The captain scored a gorgeous first-time volley, and Barça had the lead. 10 minutes later Messi released Dembélé down the right, the Frenchman never gave up on the pass and gave Pedri a tap-in, and the young midfielder couldn’t miss it this time.
At halftime, a strong finish to the half had Barça in control and looking good to finish the job in the final period.
Ronald Koeman, for reasons only he can explain, decided to take off Ronald Araujo, who had a great first half, and send on Sergi Roberto as a central defender without changing the formation. The substitution was awful and it showed right away as Barça started to lose the ball at the back seemingly every 30 seconds and Levante had chance after chance.
It only took 15 minutes for Barça’s giveaways to cost them big, and Gonzalo Melero and AJ Morales scored for Levante to tie the game with 30 minutes left to play. Thankfully for Barça they managed to reply quickly and Dembélé scored a great goal to put the visitors ahead again, but the game was wide open and Levante looked more than alive heading into the final 20 minutes.
It seemed as though Barça had finally weathered the storm and started to regain control of possession and the game, but Koeman made another strange substitution as Óscar Mingueza replaced Pedri which moved Roberto to midfield in a desperate attempt by Koeman to correct his first mistake.
Then Sergiño Dest came on, couldn’t track the run by Toño, and the Levante full-back crossed the ball to Sergio León who scored a very nice equalizer. Koeman still wasn’t done with his coaching disasterpiece, so Sergi Roberto left the pitch after just 40 minutes and was replaced by Riqui Puig who came on without enough time to impact the game.
The final whistle came to end another awful night for Barça, who managed to give away a two-goal lead in just 15 minutes and defended like toddlers in the second half. And they were coached by a toddler as well. What a disaster.
Levante: Fernández; Miramón (Coke 75’), Vezo, Duarte (Malsa 61’), Toño; De Frutos, Rober, Melero, Bardhi (Gómez 61’); Morales (Giorgi 90’), Martí (75’)
Goals: Melero (57’), Morales (59’), León (83’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo (Roberto 46’ (Puig 85’)), Piqué, Lenglet; Dembélé (Dest 81’), De Jong, Busquets, Pedri (Mingueza 74’), Alba; Messi, Griezmann (Braithwaite 81’)
Goals: Messi (25’), Pedri (34’), Dembélé (64’)