Barcelona will finish 2022 second in La Liga’s standings after they have been held to a 1-1 attract an actual card-fest in opposition to Espanyol on Saturday.
Possession wasn’t an issue for Xavi’s facet however they have been painfully gradual for almost all of the sport and Marcos Alonso’s early opener was cancelled out by Joselu’s penalty after the break, when all hell began to interrupt free.
Gavi had the sport’s first probability as he snuck in behind the defence six minutes in, forcing a pleasant save from Alvaro Fernandez, however the opening purpose got here from the ensuing nook.
Some surprising defending gifted Robert Lewandowski a free header however the Pole’s effort was surprisingly astray. As a substitute, it discovered Andreas Christensen on the again publish, and his cut-back discovered a 3rd unmarked teammate within the type of Alonso to fireside house.
Alonso ought to have had a second ten minutes later as Jordi Alba’s cross discovered him just some yards from purpose, however he did not hold his effort on track.
Xavi’s facet have been dominant in possession however their sights of purpose dried up till Raphinha’s strike from vary had Fernandez scrambling eight minutes earlier than the interval. Barcelona have been clearly the higher facet within the first half however their lack of urgency or high quality within the last third gave the boss one thing to work on at half time.
Lewandowski missed his second header of the sport ten minutes into the second half, leaping excessive within the field however sending his effort vast of the publish.
The gradual tempo continued into the second half, gifting Espanyol a glimmer of hope. The away facet have been allowed to hold about and have been gifted the possibility for an equaliser as Alonso by accident stood on the again of Joselu’s boot within the field.
Mateu Lahoz awarded a penalty and Joselu stepped as much as hearth down the center, scoring Espanyol’s first purpose in opposition to Barcelona in eight hours and 52 minutes of attempting. It was additionally the primary purpose Barcelona have conceded at Camp Nou this season.
Issues went from dangerous to worse quickly after as Alba was proven two yellow playing cards for dissent inside as many minutes to earn himself an early tub.
Espanyol did not take advantage of their benefit, nonetheless, as they have been proven two pink playing cards of their very own ten minutes from time. Vinicius Souza was proven two yellows himself, however earlier than the playing cards got here out, Leandro Cabrera noticed pink himself for a stamp on Lewandowski. VAR intervened, nonetheless, and Cabrera was permitted to remain on the pitch.
With play again underway, Christensen almost netted a header of his personal however Fernandez pulled out a wonderful save to maintain his facet alive, and the goalkeeper was again to his toes to disclaim Lewandowski shortly after.
Lahoz was throwing yellow playing cards round with reckless abandon because the clock ticked down, including a sprinkle of drama to what was in any other case a totally disappointing efficiency from Barcelona.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10 – Barely concerned by any means. Unlucky to lose his clear sheet.
RB: Sergi Roberto – 7/10 – Did not do an entire lot on the ball however his good off-ball runs have been actually impactful within the opening phases. An clever efficiency.
CB: Andreas Christensen – 7/10 – With so little defending to do, Christensen was extra concerned in assault than on the again. A intelligent help for Alonso.
CB: Marcos Alonso – 7/10 – Took each doable alternative to get forwards and, unsurprisingly, bought his purpose. Maybe a bit of unlucky with the penalty however can don’t have any complaints.
LB: Jordi Alba – 4/10 – Sensational early on as Barcelona performed with a excessive tempo though his affect quickly pale when the velocity dropped. Actually, actually silly to get himself despatched off.
DM: Frenkie de Jong – 7/10 – His motion is what units him other than Sergio Busquets. De Jong was the conductor on the base of Barcelona’s midfield and performed additional ahead after Gavi’s damage.
CM: Gavi – 6/10 – Cool on the ball however wanted to hurry issues up when it grew to become clear that Barcelona’s degree had dropped. Compelled off by way of damage early within the second half. One way or the other booked for getting choked.
CM: Pedri – 4/10 – Held again in additional of a deeper function right here which actually hampered his involvement, however was stunningly sloppy in possession.
RW: Raphinha – 4/10 – Performed some good passes however did not supply sufficient attacking risk himself. In all probability a bit of too protected in that respect.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – 4/10 – Fully remoted within the centre as Barcelona failed to seek out their means in direction of purpose. Surprisingly wasteful with the header that led to Alonso’s opener and missed one other after the break. Good job Barcelona spent weeks ensuring he was out there for this.
LW: Ansu Fati – 3/10 – Erratic and ineffective. Hasn’t been the identical since his damage and did not take his probability right here.
Sergio Busquets (52′ for Gavi) – 5/10 – The king of slowing issues down did nothing to handle the shortage of urgency.
Ousmane Dembele (62′ for Raphinha) – 3/10 – Some completely rotten choices as he lashed two surprising strikes effectively vast of purpose when he ought to have carried out one thing else.
Ferran Torres (62′ for Fati) – 5/10 – Not notably concerned both.
Alejandro Balde (82′ for Roberto) – 7/10 – A full of life risk who was let down by his teammates.
Jules Kounde (82′ for De Jong) – 6/10 – Did not get a lot time to strut his stuff.
Xavi – 4/10 – Had no solutions for something. The tempo slowed halfway by way of the primary half and Xavi modified nothing, permitting Espanyol to remain alive within the recreation and finally safe their equaliser. Didn’t make the most of the guests’ tactical shortcomings and was made to pay.