Barcelona remain unbeaten going into the second international break of the season but had to settle for their third draw in nine La Liga games and are now three points off the top thanks to a wild 2-2 draw away to Granada at the Nuevo Los Cármenes on Sunday night. Barça conceded 20 seconds into the game and found themselves two goals behind, but managed to come back and earn a point in one of the craziest games of the Spanish season so far.
Barça were stunned just 20 seconds into the game as Granada set a successful trap in midfield to take the ball away from Gavi and moved it quickly to Bryan Zaragoza, who found himself one-on-one with Marc-André ter Stegen and fired it past the Barça keeper to put the home team in front and completely change the game in its very first minute.
Granada could afford to be less aggressive than usual and were happy to sit in a medium block designed to close spaces and win the ball back to create more danger on the counter. Barça had to be patient and move the ball with precision to find spaces and create chances, and the Blaugrana parked themselves inside the Granada half looking for opportunities and hoping to find a quick equalizer.
The response from Barça was positive with quality attacking football and aggressive pressing without the ball, and the Catalans created plenty of danger and could have easily scored on multiple attempts by Ferran Torres, João Félix, Lamine Yamal and Gavi.
But the visitors didn’t score, and were made to pay for their poor finishing by conceding again at the half-hour mark: a long ball by Gerard Gumbau found the run of Zaragoza who showed brilliant composure to sit down Jules Kounde inside the box and find the back of the net for his second of the half, and Granada were in dreamland.
To make matters worse for Barça, they suffered yet another key injury: on a play that was already over due to an offside that was called late thanks to VAR’s stupid guidelines, Gavi accidentally collided with Jules Kounde and hit the Frenchman’s knee, forcing the center-back to be replaced by Ronald Araujo just before halftime.
Things really felt hopeless on the Barça side as we headed into the break, but in stoppage time of the first half came an injection of positivity: a deflected shot by João Félix inside the box fell perfectly into the path of Lamine Yamal who scored his first Barça goal, made history as La Liga’s youngest goalscorer, and brought the Catalans back to the game.
The halftime whistle came to end a wild opening period, with Granada in front thanks to two goals from their only two shots while Barça were playing well and had some hope for a second half comeback.
Barça owned the ball to start the second half and constantly found themselves in very dangerous positions, but their poor decision-making in the final third ruined several promising attacks.
Granada could no longer offer the same threat on the counter that we saw in the first half, and the home team had very few moments of spark up front but did come close to scoring on a couple of set pieces. Manager Paco López used his substitutions to keep his team fresh to defend the lead, and as we reached the final 10 minutes they were still ahead as Barça amped up the pressure.
The Blaugrana kept pushing, however, and finally found a way through: a perfect low cross from Alejandro Balde found the run of Sergi Roberto inside the six-yard box, and the captain completed the comeback and gave Barça a chance to win it. They almost conceded a third right from the kickoff when Bryan Zaragoza had a chance to complete his hat-trick, but his shot somehow hit the post and stayed out.
We were set up for a wild finish going into the seven minutes of stoppage time, with both times not settling for a point and going on the attack looking for a winner. Barça thought they had got it in the 93rd minutes with a header by João Félix, but the goal was disallowed for an offside by Ferran Torres in the buildup.
Oriol Romeu almost won it seconds later with a shot from distance that went just wide, but that ended up being Barça’s last chance as the final whistle came to give each team a point on the night. This was nuts and went right to the wire, and both sides had a real chance to win it and would have deserved it in the end. A draw feels fair, and Granada deserve a ton of credit for not just parking the bus and taking the fight to Barça.
This promised to be intense and entertaining and it delivered — and then some. Barça played well again and created enough to win it, but the finishing and poor decision-making cost them. At least we’re still unbeaten, and if there are no more injuries in the international break this team should be in good shape to get back to winning ways when Barça football returns in two weeks.
Granada: Ferreira; Sánchez (Vallejo 84’), Rubio, Miquel, Neva, Fernández (Torrente 58’); Uzuni (Puertas 58’), Villar (Petrovic 58’), Gumbau; Boyé (Callejón 74’), Zaragoza
Goals: Zaragoza (1’, 29’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Kounde (Araujo 44’), Christensen, Balde; Fermín (Roberto 61’), Gündogan, Gavi; Yamal (Romeu 76’), Ferran, Félix
Goals: Yamal (45+1’), Roberto (85’)