Barcelona have increased their lead at the top of the La Liga table to 13 points with 10 games to go and continue to get closer to the trophy thanks to a goalless draw in the Catalan derby against Girona on Easter Monday at the Spotify Camp Nou. The Catalans struggled to attack all night and didn’t deserve anything from the game, and after a horrible loss in El Clásico they somehow found a way to look worse despite getting a point.
The opening period was hard-fought and intense with Girona unafraid to be bold with their attacking strategy and leaving plenty of space in behind for Barça to attack. Both sides created good chances early on, and it was a surprise to not see a goal after the first 15 minutes.
As time went on Barça began having more of the ball and Girona chose to retreat and play more defensively, which forced the home team to be more creative and clinical in the final third. But Barça couldn’t come up with consistent offense and wasted several excellent attacks with imprecise passes and poor decisions, and they were unable to create a real opportunity.
But they still nearly found the opener in the 38th minute when Ronald Araujo was at the receiving end of a corner from Raphinha and fired a shot that was milimeters away from crossing the line, but Paulo Gazzaniga made a fantastic reflex save to keep Girona from conceding.
That ended up being the best opportunity of the frame, and at the break Barça needed to be a lot more clinical up front to find the winning goals in the second half.
Barça’s levels dropped considerably from an already disappointing first half as the Blaugrana continued to play poorly up front and began losing easy balls in midfield which led to some dangerous Girona attacks, and Tati Castellanos should have given the visitors the lead when he found himself onside and one-on-one with Marc-André ter Stegen but completely missed the target.
The Catalans were slow and unimaginative in possession and played a lot of backwards and sideways passes until launching an aimless cross into the box that didn’t result in any trouble for the Girona defense, and as we approached the final 15 minutes the visitors were a big threat to take a shock lead on the road.
But what appeared to be a strange substitution from Xavi Hernández finally injected some life into Barça’s game as Jordi Alba came off the bench to play in the front three and provide the type of energy and quality that the attack had lacked all game. The hosts looked like a real threat for the first time in the final period, and it felt like Barça’s winning goal was just a matter of time going into the dying seconds.
But Gazzaniga made a couple of big stops and Girona found a way to stay out of trouble at the end, and the final whistle came to give each team a point after a competitive Catalan derby. Barça have increased their lead at the top of the table but didn’t deserve to, and their attacking performance was disgusting at times.
The vibes after the Clásico loss somehow get worse after this. Some serious improvement is needed.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Eric, Balde; Gavi, Busquets, Roberto (Kessie 46’); Raphinha (Alba 75’), Lewandowski, Fati (Ferran 68’)
Girona: Gazzaniga; Martínez, Bueno, López, Hernández; Romeu; Tsygankov (Riquelme 71’), Martín (Valery 84’), Borja (García 46’), Villa (Couto 60’); Castellanos (Stuani 60’)