This is a team that has forgotten what it means to compete.
Xavi can say that his team won’t give up, but that’s exactly what it looked like against Granada.
It was more of a recreational contest, than a meaningful match for the Blaugrana players, who took their opponents for granted. Granada are second from bottom in Spain, and that’s exactly what makes them dangerous at this time of year.
Make no mistake about it, Barcelona still do have a lot to play for, but the message isn’t getting through to the team. Taking the three points would have put them just one game behind Girona in the standings. And with Atletico Madrid losing, they could have extended their lead above them as well.
Winning La Liga may have seemed like a pipedream after Real Madrid’s dominating display on Saturday, but keeping pace domestically was part of the mission that Xavi articulated when he stated he was staying in charge until the end of the season.
Napoli, luckily, is a bit of a disaster themselves. You can flip a coin at this point to determine which of the two floundering teams will come out on top of their round of 16 Champions League matchup.
This Barcelona team is complacent. The vibes are all wrong.
No one seems to care about winning anymore, because it’s just a race to get to the end of the season, and see what happens. Maybe abandon the ship. Maybe stick around to see if there’s an interesting project with the new manager.
The return of Marc-Andre ter Stegen was encouraging to see. The German is the captain, and his leadership was really missed during the downturn over the past few months.
He wasn’t at his best in the third goal that was let in, but he surely must have been surprised by the lack of discipline and fighting spirit in front of him.
This is Granada guys.
The first 30 minutes, Barca had their way, letting their class take care of the business on the field.
Lamine Yamal continues to be extraordinary. Overall, Barcelona was on the front foot.
But they weren’t really playing to win. All it took was a little intensity from Granada, while Barcelona was caught sleeping, to turn the momentum the rest of the way.
With their backs against the wall, Barcelona doesn’t dig deep. They can’t match the intensity of their opponents, when their opponents, as small as they may be, stand up and throw a punch back.
Granada wanted this game, because they had to have it. And after they equalized, they realized the points were there for the taking on the road.
Barcelona had four center defenders on the field, and three midfielders, dropping one of their forwards.
Andreas Christensen continued his tryout as the defensive midfielder. At this point, he isn’t really helping on either side of the ball.
This was a defensive lineup that Xavi went with.
It was meant to be solid and strong, with enough midfield talent to maintain control.
In the end, they were defensively vulnerable, and they dominated nothing.
And it’s a shame, because this team has some true bright spots that we shouldn’t ignore.
Lamine Yamal keeps getting better and better. Every game, he gains confidence, and knowledge. His reading of the game and decision making are now allowing his innate talents to really break out in the form of goals.
Pau Cubarsí has been courageous, but maybe Xavi is starting to rely on him too much. The first goal really was the result of him not being able to deal with a ball sent into the area. This is an age old defensive deficiency for Barcelona teams. Still, it will be interesting to see if he’s a future Pique, Puyol, or if he goes in the other direction, and turns into an Eric Garcia.
In the end, the team lost this game together.
It’s a collective fragility that isn’t getting better.
Barcelona will have to get to the end of the season, and find a manager who can get these players to believe in themselves, and to learn what it takes to be competitive.
Unfortunately, there’s only one Jurgen Klopp, and it looks like that man is headed for some time away from the game.
Poor Xavi. Doing his best, but the magic isn’t there anymore.
The dressing room needs a new voice. They need accountability.
Giving up on the season is not an option.