Granada vs Barcelona a few weeks ago at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes finished with a 0:4 victory, a result perhaps a bit harsh on Granada considering their defensive set up. This time around, they conceded five in an instant Copa del Rey classic.
Granada vs Barcelona – the line-ups
Once again, the line-up for the game was pretty close to the strongest possible. Sergio Busquets’ revival of form in recent weeks has been positive for him and the team. The midfield three of Busquets-De Jong-Pedri has been one of the constants in the calendar 2021.
Griezmann and Messi are still looking for that moment when their comfort level of both playing with each other will be at an all-time high. Ousmane Dembele has been a revelation this season. He has been crucial for Barcelona’s recent run of form, and with his health history and the high volume of games, he started that game on the bench.
Attacking review and how close we are to optimum team
Another exceptional start of the game for Barcelona. High tempo, good pace on passes, progressive play rather than recycling the ball and play around, direct but measured everybody looked very lively. With Griezmann being aggressive, Pedri being himself, and the dynamo that is De Jong, Barcelona looks like a completely different team offensively. Messi has more a tiny bit more space because there is quality all around. And when all of that starts to work together, we have a game like that offensively.
Poor goalkeeping from, otherwise, the Man of the Match, up to that point, Aarón misjudged the ball for a bizarre goal after 88 mins of absolute dominance and endless frustration for Barcelona. That moment just opens up the floodgates. Great pass by Messi which is a bit long and the goalkeeper did not expect a shot from practically the byline.
The constant pressure almost turned into a training ground shootaround with players queuing up in the penalty box. Messi-Griezmann-Alba linking up for the equalizer sending the game into extra time. Copy of the pass for the first goal.
But let’s be honest, the game was totally dominated by Barcelona. In the first 15-20 minutes, the chances were coming left and right.
Trincao found himself in good positions almost similar to the one that Messi is in a bit later on. Better decision-making at times probably would’ve decided the game earlier.
Messi found himself consistently in situations like this, and the difference was the timing of the support was perfect. Only luck and better finishing were missing.
A couple of words on Griezmann because I have been critical before about him. The only thing he did differently today, in my opinion, is that “he wanted it more.” Participated more in the final third and looking very sharp on and off the ball when in that mental state and desire to win, Antoine Griezmann is a fantastic football player.
We saw what this partnership could be. Mesmerizing football at times and pure unpredictability in the final third.
Defensive issues deepened
The goals conceded today are typical as the team is prone to make mistakes, either being put under pressure in their own half or chasing the game. There is no need to keep possession in those areas being that crowded. Simply clear the ball and regroup.
The rapid starts in recent games also explain that – they go all out for an early goal so we can open the opposition and find more space. The issue is on a night like this when there is no pressure on the ball and spaces are limited. A simple ball over the top puts 35-year old Roberto Soldado through on goal.
The main question still lies with the defensive consistency of the team. Individual performances like the ones Alba had in the Supercopa Final or Lenglet against Rayo in the Copa have proven that the team lacks reliable options. Araujo and Umtiti are the starters at the moment with the Uruguayan having a breakout season but he also is still young and developing.
Off to the semi-finals
With Dembele and Messi hitting the posts in the last minutes of regulation time, that number totalled to 3 for the second half. At the end of the day, we can look back and say that this is just football. Have we all not waited to see this team play some football. Hopefully, the players enjoyed it as much as Barcelona fans on Wednesday night. On to the semi-finals.