VAR brings controversy with Lenglet sending off
The main talking point from Sunday’s match is obviously Clement Lenglet’s red card. It was a controversial decision from referee Gil Manzano who has previous when it comes to Barcelona and sendings off.
The initial decision looked debatable, but television replays didn’t look great and Lenglet’s decision to go down afterwards suggested he knew he might be in trouble.
Interestingly, Pere Pons thought he’d conceded the foul, while Ernesto Valverde was surprised it went to VAR, and Sergio Busquets didn’t think it was a red card.
However, the officials in charge clearly thought Manzano had got it wrong and invited him to have another look, resulting in a red card. It was a tough call for Lenglet and a key decision which clearly changed the match.
Should Umtiti have come straight on after Lenglet red?
The sending off gave Girona fresh impetus, and they equalised 10 minutes after Lenglet had walked through Cristhian Stuani.
Valverde had opted not to make a substitution despite seeing his centre-back depart, and instead Sergio Busquets dropped into defence until half-time.
Samuel Umtiti looked all set to come on, but Valverde delayed the change perhaps concerned he was not fully warmed up and would be vulnerable to injury.
It was a key time in the match, as Stuani equalised right before half-time to give the visitors a big lift going into the second half against 10 men.
Rotation not working yet for Valverde
For the second La Liga match in a row Valverde opted for a spot of rotation, but once again it didn’t quite work out for the Barcelona boss.
Lenglet, Arthur and Arturo Vidal all started but none of the new boys lasted the 90 minutes. While Lenglet was dismissed early, Arthur was quiet and made way for Philippe Coutinho on the hour mark.
Ivan Rakitic also arrived in place of Vidal at the same time, although the Chilean can claim an assist for laying the ball off to Lionel Messi for the opening goal.
The decision to bench Coutinho again was also a surprising one. The Brazilian has been a substitute in three of Barcelona’s five games this season despite playing well.
Barcelona have two more games this week, against Leganes and Athletic Bilbao, it will be interesting to see how Valverde lines his teams up for those games.