Barcelona once again looked cold and unsure of itself on a chilly night in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains against fourth division side Barbastro.
To be fair, the game was never really in doubt, and these Copa del Rey fixtures can be tricky for anyone.
The pitch in these lower division stadiums can seem unplayable for La Liga teams who are accustomed to perfectly manicured surfaces.
The atmosphere can provide a shock too with screaming fans right on top of you, eager to get a glimpse of the giants of the game, and ready to do their part to bring them back down to earth.
For Xavi, it was an opportunity to rotate players, while still expecting to get the result.
Two of the bright parts of this game were Fermin Lopez and Hector Fort, who recorded a goal and an assist respectively. You love to see industry from players with everything to prove.
But other players failed to impress in a game where they had a great chance to shine. Raphinha, Joao Felix, and Ferran Torres needed a big breakout game to earn the confidence of the club and the fan base. All of them struggled to have their way against a side far below their level.
Xavi chose a strong lineup for this game. He wasn’t taking any chances. He desperately wants his star players to get going. Now is the time in the heart of the season.
But Barcelona is moving on to the round of 16, and that’s what matters.
They live to see another day. They are alive in all competitions, with a lot to play for.
It could all come crashing down soon, however, if their form doesn’t improve.
This game in the Huesca province was another reminder that the team is struggling to get on the rails.
They don’t know who they are, or how they want to play.
They get rattled easily when intensity picks up on the pitch, and in the stands.
The defense looks vulnerable, and the forwards are without solutions.
With the first week of January coming to a close, it asks the question, what’s to be done, or not done, during this transfer window.
It will be interesting to see what Vitor Roque can do as his time with the team picks up. Hopefully, he has a fire in his belly, and won’t let the low confidence of his teammates wear off on him.
For now, culers are left in limbo.
Not having a whole lot of fun (jealous of those Barbastro fans having the time of their lives). But sticking around to see if the quality of the play improves. Wondering if this team has the backbone to win silverware.
The Copa del Rey is an important competition for Barcelona. And coming up next will be an intriguing challenge against Osasuna in the semifinals of the Supercopa.
Barcelona has been consistently average lately.
That won’t cut it going forward.
Xavi and his men are walking a tightrope.
They’re surviving for now. But change is needed if they are to make something of this season.