Barcelona are six points clear at the top of the La Liga table thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win against Girona at the Montilivi Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Barça played one of their worst games of the season and needed plenty of luck to escape with a narrow victory, but Pedri’s second half goal was enough to give them the win.
In the first installment of a new series on Barca Blaugranes, here are four winners and four losers from the game.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Pedri: Picking the guy who scored the game-winner as a winner is pretty cheap, but on a day where Barça played very poorly there is no other way to start than with Pedri. He capped his 100th appearance for the club with a goal and was the best player on the pitch, and even though the team didn’t play well they always looked their most dangerous with the Spanish star involved in the action.
Jordi Alba: Not seeing Alba in the starting lineup was a shock and his absence was felt from the very beginning, but his introduction at halftime made the attack look more competent and even though his assist to Pedri won’t officially count because of Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga’s deflection, Alba was a crucial part of the best attacking move of the entire game from an otherwise terrible Barça display.
Jules Kounde: If Pedri didn’t exist, I would feel very comfortable calling Kounde Barça’s best player. It is remarkable just how much he has changed the defense with his speed, poise and positioning. He’s developing more and more as a full-back and becoming more comfortable making overlapping runs and playing excellent passes through the lines to find teammates in dangerous positions. Kounde is the complete defender and calm presence this team needed.
Ronald Araujo: Kounde deserves his flowers but Araujo was also a big part of the win in this one with some excellent anticipatory moves to recover the ball and/or break up attacks, a crucial goal-line clearance and some crazy displays of athleticism.
Raphinha: The Brazilian’s rough debut season at Camp Nou hit perhaps its lowest point today. His set-piece delivery was inexplicable, and his finishing and decision-making killed the very few promising attacks the team created in the first half. Ousmane Dembélé’s injury will mean more minutes for Raphinha in a crucial February, and he simply must find a way to play better. What he’s doing right now is not good enough.
Barça’s attack: This was the third 1-0 win in a row, but the other two games featured moments of good-to-great attack that simply lacked finishing. This was different and concerning: Barça were uncreative, lazy, missed easy passes and made bad decisions time and time again. It felt like watching Ronald Koeman’s team again, which is very worrying going into a month of giant games against very good teams.
The new kit: I am a fan of the Senyera uniforms. They honor the club’s roots and generally feature a very nice yellow and red scheme, but the new ones just don’t work at all. The thin horizontal red stripes across the chest just don’t make sense, and the club’s crest in the center of the shirt looks strange and is hidden by all the red. Here’s hoping we don’t need to see it again.
Girona’s mascot: Meet SISA the Fly, Girona’s mascot and the worst dancer of all time:
Interesting moves from Girona’s mascot pic.twitter.com/Jg6qQkgA0p— Jamie Easton Gombau (@eastonjamie) January 28, 2023