The team was dejected in the locker room after losing to Granada (1-2) and not reaching the league leadership, Koeman looked for the most significant players to lift his spirits with a view to the “crucial” match – the coach’s word – on Sunday in Valencia . The Barça coach appealed to motivation after a defeat that he attributed to a lack of defensive concentration in the only two shots between Granada’s three sticks. They did not know how to close the centrals, deconcentrated and out of place, lacking in forcefulness in the actions of Machís and Jorge Molina. The images of defeat evoke days already lived and that seemed forgotten when individual actions penalized the collective game of Barcelona.
The unexpected fall for Barça, however, also pointed out to the coach for not having found precisely structural solutions to correct the repeated particular errors, which ooze despite the design changes (3-5-2). Although the drawing has been very flexible, the team has never been reliable defensively, not even since it lines up from the three centrals and not the classic 4-3-3. The ownership of Umtiti surprised as much as the absence of Araujo after the break given to Lenglet. Neither Piqué was accurate in the 1-2 nor Mingueza in the 1-1. The rear was soft and, despite defending in situations of superiority against the rival attack, conceded easy attacks to Granada.
Injuries have punished Umtiti. He has played in 15 of 49 games, 783 minutes, and his last match as a starter dates back to the one played in Pamplona – curiously, he has come out in the starting line-up in the three games against Granada. He also played a quarter of an hour against Getafe. He has lost speed and correction capacity and did not have the competitive pace necessary to face Granada. Repetitive in fouls, he failed at 1-2 and was not quick at 1-1 either. The Frenchman’s situation contrasts with that of Mingueza, who anticipates well, progresses in attack and in return repeatedly makes mistakes, as in 1-1. Nor was Sergi Roberto correct. Equally conditioned by injuries, he did not have the percussion nor was he as incisive as Dest usually is. The team does not close the spaces between the side and the center well with the 3-5-2.
Despite stating that the squad was physically very well, the coach gave Lenglet, Pedri, Dest a break from the start and did not use Araujo. He was not right in the choice of the headlines and he was not lucid in the changes or in the reading of the game because the team attacked badly, without amplitude or depth in the absence of extremes, easy for Granada to defend. Often it seemed that he was left with a center back and one winger was missing, only redeemed by the inside passes of Busquets, surprisingly replaced by Trincão. The central midfielder did not stop looking for Messi, excellent at the beginning, blocked later and disappeared from the 1-2. No player has made more passes in the same game in this league than Busquets against Granada: 136 (123 correct), for the 185 for all of Granada.
Extremist by nature, the team has lost the same points at home as it was away (14) after losing five to Cádiz, drawing against Alavés and Eibar or falling against Getafe. He has also lost both games against Madrid and Wanda against Atlético, waiting to receive the colchoneros on Saturday 8. He cannot in appointments with the greats, neither in the League nor in the Champions League, surpassed by Juve and PSG, and it is also fragile against minor teams in the League. He has been defeated in the two games that could elevate him in the championship: against Madrid in Valdebebas and against Granada. The two defeats cloud an extraordinary comeback since his fall on December 5 at Carranza: 18 wins, three draws and two losses after Atlético took a 12-point lead.
It is difficult for him to control and close the games, sometimes excessively fast and sometimes very slow, unable to defend himself with the ball, dependent on his means: the De Jong-Busquets-Pedri trio offered stability and activated Messi. Pedri was absent from the start against Granada and the game mechanics suffered because Ilax has different characteristics at the wheel of Tegueste. Pjanic and Riqui Puig do not enter into Koeman’s plans. It is still curious that he lost the two games in which he had the most possession of the ball in this course: 82.1% against Cádiz and 81.9% against Granada. Messi’s 26 goals do not hide his lack of football rigor and punching in the areas, increasingly fatigued, without continuity in the game, lacking a 9.
The team, always very tender, lacked reaction power when it took Granada’s second goal. It was neither epic nor the character that, on the contrary, evidenced in the Cup. The frustration affected the field and the bench equally to the point that the referee expelled Koeman. The coach is now especially concerned about the psychological impact that defeat may have in the next five games: more than opposition from rivals, Barça’s problem lies with Barça itself, which curiously can make Madrid the leader if they beat Atlético in the Camp Nou.