ALAVES VS BARCELONA
Barcelona’s disappointing run continued as they dropped points against Alaves, which means they have not won the last 4 League games. After a thrilling win against Juventus at Turin, Koeman’s Barcelona were seeking to showcase the same quality against Alaves, one of Barcelona’s favourite opponents, but they failed horribly. Alaves were confined to 10 men in 62 mins after Jota was sent off after two yellow cards. Still, they were outstanding defensively, which is why Barcelona couldn’t secure a win despite having 80 % possession and in total 25 shots. Our editors will have their say on this particular fixture, Alaves vs Barcelona, in this editorial review.
A tough match with crucial points dropped.
Barcelona seems to struggle particularly against physical teams that can put up a low/mid-block. Koeman is yet to make an impact in la Liga as Barcelona have gone 8 points below Real Madrid. Although with a match in hand. Koeman particularly cannot be blamed for the game yesterday. However, he did gamble with the lineup by starting Busquets over Pjanic. Busquets’ progressive passing that we saw against Juve was nowhere to be seen against Alaves, and this definitely affected the proceedings.
Alaves seemed to adapt really well in terms of how they put up a block, mostly sitting deep while defending but pressing and overloading individual Barca forwards and cutting down passing lanes. It was evident that Machin had improvised a plan looking at Barca against Getafe, as he mentioned before the match, and many parallels could be drawn.
The first half saw many turnovers in both sides, as Barca weren’t in the rhythm they so comfortably got into against Juve. A lot could be said about Barca’s forwards, and specifically that they always aimed at breaking the block for almost the whole game. Barca lacked shots before the last 10 mins of the game, and they should have gone through with multiple shots even in the first half, forcing a block from defenders with the likes of Messi, Fati, and Dembele on the pitch.
A particular issue is the speed of circulation. Creating space off the ball is useless if the ball isn’t circulated quickly enough to exploit the space. Multiple players were culprits of holding on to the ball a bit too long, which only ended up with the defenders regrouping. The first half was lacklustre with the Neto howler, which is unacceptable for a keeper who plays for Barcelona. However, mistakes happen, and we need to accept it.
In low scoring games, each goal holds a lot of value, and that Neto mistake was crucial to Barca dropping points yesterday. The Griezmann goal only begins to show his capabilities, and the fact that he seems to have adapted to Barca’s movements only seems to be a positive sign. We are yet to see Griezmann at his best, but by the looks of it, it will be sometime soon. The second half was a lot better performance by Barca, by bringing in Pjanic, Pedri, and Trincao. The team seemed to have changed in shape, too, with a front 3 of Ansu Griezmann Trincao being more visible, Messi playing deep, and Pedri playing a #10 role.
Barca managed to create multiple chances but were denied by the very in form Alaves keeper, Pacheco. Overall, if Barca would’ve played the first half the way they did in the second, they would’ve walked away with three points for sure.
MOTM: Griezmann. His contributions usually goes under the radar, but against Alaves, he was a glimpse of what he could be.
We will bounce back!
Koeman started with Busquets ahead of Pjanic despite him displaying a brilliant character in Juventus, which was probably a mistake from Koeman. But it might be a tactical decision to give more mins to Pjanic against Dynamo Kyiv in the upcoming Champions League fixture. Alaves gave Barcelona a tough time as they were very organized defensively.
The first half was disastrous for Barcelona; they were slow in the build-up, they lost balls for too many occasions, Messi was losing possession too much, and so was Dembele. Alaves managed to confine Messi with 3-4 players closing him whenever Messi received the ball. Barcelona conceded early on with a misfortune, Neto’s mistake coming from Pique’s miscalculated back pass. The Frustration was evident, Barcelona’s players didn’t convert some good chances, and it was probably the poorest first half of Barcelona ever since Koeman took over.
Koeman made early changes in the second half by bringing in Pedri, Trincao, and Pjanic. Koeman was spot on with this sub as these three players’ impact was evident from the very first minute of the second half. Pedri was excellent, so were Trincao and Pjanic. Barcelona indeed managed to return a goal by a stunning strike from Griezman. But, other than that, they couldn’t fancy other chances. In my opinion, the main problem was Barcelona slowing during the build-up; Alaves players had too much time to reorganize themselves defensively. Barcelona played even better during the last 10 mins, but that didn’t work.
Barcelona played poor in the first half, and Koeman responded well by making those early changes, and that did look good. It was also about luck, lack of finishing, and lack of desire to fight for among players, making Barcelona not seal all three points. Barcelona also needs to improve corner kicks as they were given 13 corner kicks, and they couldn’t get a goal from there. Barcelona needs to play like they played in the second half, and they will do good. Koeman looked very frustrated at the end, and I hope he doesn’t overlook the mistakes that happened in this game, and Barcelona can bounce back. I still see the chance.
We will definitely bounce back! Visca El Barca!
MOTM: Pedri. Pedri’s impact was immense, he plays as if he has played for Barcelona since ages. Pedri coming on in second half was what changed the game.
Last 4 League Games – 0 wins: Unimpressive
Barca again fell. Against a rampant Pablo Machín Alves, Barca ‘lost 2 points’. There is no other way to put it.
Alaves are never a great side to visit, but without fans, the stadium was not hostile. Still, Barca fails to get all the 3 points. After a classic performance against Juventus, what really happened? Since the start, Barca looked as if they were playing for their life.
Alaves played on the counter, but our players gave everything on the plate to them. There were so many ball losses from the first touch, which were as simple as it can get. Alba’s right foot passes to Busquets’ slow release of the ball; nothing worked in the favour. And the goal was as comical it can get. Alaves on the counter forced Pique and Neto into miscommunication, and Neto couldn’t clear the ball, and the Alaves made it 1-0.
Dembele was one of the positives of the 1st half. He was brave enough to take on players despite losing the ball in the process many times. The Barca players, despite building from the back, didn’t find the back of the net.
Koeman was quick to respond as he did three subs at the start of the 2nd half, but the most surprising was subbing off Lenglet and De Jong coming at the CB position. That did help as it gave Pedri and Pjanic more space in the midfield to do what they do best, and they did it.
Alaves went down to 10 men in the 62nd minute, and despite we scoring a minute after, we couldn’t find a winner in the next 30 minutes. Barca had a total of 25 shots out of which nine were on target, and Alaves’ defensive line should be credited to keep it 1-1.
But, where is the attacking output that you expect with this team? What Koeman needs to sort is which player he needs at which position. Transition is a great thing for a team, but it is equally destroying when it is done without any sense. Pjanic should be a starter, and Busquets needs to come on to see the game out.
What’s funny in all of this is that Barca will play Dynamo Kyiv next Wednesday, and don’t be surprised if Barca drops a mind-blowing performance. Lastly, We should keep in mind that this team is in transition, and we have to be patient with them.
Worrying situation for Barcelona and Koeman, 4 games without a win.
Riding high on the UCL win against Juventus away in Turin earlier in the week, the Blaugrana travelled to the Estadio Mendizorozza hoping to break their winless streak in La Liga. It has always been a difficult trip visiting Alaves due to their tight defensive style of players and this time was no different. Greizmann & Dembele started in Koeman’s line up alongside Messi and Fati. De Jong and Busquets started in midfield, although I would prefer Pjanic starting.
The first half witnessed Barça holding possession as usual like any other girl but a howler by Neto gave the home side the lead. Unable to get the equaliser, the first half ended frustratingly for the visitors. Despite an impressive outing in Turin, Dembele couldn’t find his gear in this game.
Koeman made three substitutions at half-time hoping to turn this game around. Youngsters Trincao and Pedri along with Pjanic changed the gameplay in Barça’s attack. A second yellow card for Jota on a reckless tackle on Pique reduced the home side to ten men at the hour mark. And within a minute amongst all odds, Griezmann finally got on the scoresheet with an impressive finish lobbing the Alaves keeper. With just under thirty minutes to play, Messi looked to be the heart of Barcelona’s attack but the closest he came was a free-kick being cleared off the line. Sergi Roberto had less work to do in defence instead he assisted in the attack. However, his five key crosses didn’t yield much for Barcelona as none of them could be converted.
Pjanic did make a difference in the second half, De Jong couldn’t find his groove in the first but improved in the second. Trincao, despite coming on as a substitute, showed why he should be a regular starter for Koeman. Pique came close to giving Barça the winner in the dying moments of the game. Alaves saw out the game with a 1-1 draw and their stubborn defensive tactics worked perfectly.
Barcelona has gone for four games in a row without a win in La Liga and Koeman needs to get his tactics right straight away.
MOTM: Lionel Messi, the most impressive player today on the pitch. He just couldn’t give Barcelona that all-important goal to hand them the win.