Just How Bad Is Barcelona’s Start to This La Liga Season?

Miami, Fla. (September 23, 2019) —

Granada had only beaten Barcelona once in their last twenty meetings. Then came Saturday night, a pleasant, warm, dry evening in southern Andalusia.

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the final score. The shocking result over the weekend condemned Barcelona to its worst league start in 25 years and leaves the club in eighth place in the table, three points behind Granada. The previous worst start was in 1994-1995 under manager Johan Cruyff. It is also the first time since that season that Barcelona have failed to win any of its first three away games. The Blaugrana have been winless on the road stretching back to April (last season.)

Manager Ernesto Valverde made four changes to the side that unconvincingly drew 0-0 with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last Tuesday, as a returning Messi started on the bench once more. Summer signing Junior Firpo was handed his first start of the season after Jordi Alba had picked up an injury in midweek, but it was his defensive slip that directly led to Granada taking the lead after just one minute and five seconds.

Ramon Azeez headed in at the back post, to the delight of the over 18,000 spectators at the Nuevo Los Cármenes, who would not have dared to dream of being a goal up after less than two minutes having been played. The early advantage proved no fluke either, as the hosts pressed on and could have added to their advantage before the interval – Manchester City loanee Yangel Herrera shooting narrowly over from outside the box.

Barcelona’s best opportunity fell to Luis Suarez in first-half stoppage time, but the Uruguay forward’s goal-bound attempt was – typically of the hosts’ defensive performance – blocked on the line.

Something had to be done, and Valverde introduced Lionel Messi (replacing Carles Perez) and 16-year old superstar Ansu Fati at half-time. The pair saw plenty of the ball in the second half, but despite their best efforts, neither could achieve a breakthrough. In fact, it was a Granada substitute, Álvaro Vadillo, who had a bigger impact on the game, adding the hosts’ second from the penalty spot after Arturo Vidal’s costly hand ball in the area, which was confirmed beyond any doubt by VAR. Vadillo swept the ball to his left from the penalty spot, away from a diving Marc Andre ter Steigen.

Granada’s Álvaro Vadillo celebrates his penalty kick.

Such was the strength of Granada’s play that the visitors, despite having 73 % of the possession and out passing Granada by a wide margin, failed to register a shot on target in the first half and landed just one of their eight shots – from Messi in 82nd minute – on target in the entire game.

Barcelona never looked like getting back into the contest after that, as a resilient, dogged Granada recorded a famous victory.

One can only imagine what Ernesto is thinking.

Barcelona have now failed to score in six of their last seven La Liga away matches, while €120 million summer signing Antoine Griezmann is yet to have a shot on target after four away matches for Barcelona.

The recent form of the Culés has Luis Suarez worried:

“This defeat hurts us and makes us very worried and we need to really take hard look at ourselves if we are to improve. We didn’t manage to dominate the game in any way. We need to analyse what has gone wrong in these a way games; we are obviously concerned about the lack of chances we are creating.”

Leo Messi is not fully healthy though he is still the key to Barcelona’s fortunes.

When asked where the blame lied for the loss at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, Valverde was clear in his answer.

“We’re missing precision in the final third, they tried to press us, we came out well from the pressure and then it was a matter of adding the finishing touch, that’s where we went wrong,” he explained.

“We will try to improve.” He also took responsibility for the defeat, adding, “You always blame yourself for what happens, the actors are the players but in the end, the coach is responsible,” he said.

Barcelona are also leaking goals as well, having conceded nine goals in five matches, tied for the worst defensive record in La Liga along with Real Betis.

“It’s clearly not a very good statistic for us and not in line with what we have been doing in the last few years,” said Ernesto Valverde.

Adding to the pressure the Catalan press has been unsympathetic to the Blaugrana, as this cover of yesterday’s Diario Sport clearly shows:

El Sueño Rojiblanco Continúa – Granada CF Shock Champions Barcelona, Climb To 3rd In La Liga

Miami, Fla. (September 23, 2019) —

“Absolutely stunning.”

These are perhaps the best words to sum up the game this last Saturday at the Estadio Nuevo de Los Cármenes. Diego Martinez’s side has impressed so far in 2019-20, following their return to the Spanish top flight. Saturday night, their tenacity was again on display, as home side Granada CF shocked the reigning La Liga champions FC Barcelona, 2-0 in a night few Granada fans will forget anytime soon.

Ramon Azeez stunned the visitors with a goal inside the first 60 seconds, heading home at the far post, after Jose Puentas profited from a slip by Junior Firpo, who got his first start for the Catalan side.

The visitors never really recovered from that early setback, with Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann unable to trouble an organised home defence.

Throughout the game, the home side played with intensity, hunger, order, perfect coverage, helping each other in a display of teamwork that Ernesto Valverde surely would have wanted from his Barcelona players.

Valverde brought on Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati at half time, but again they struggled to make any attacking inroads as the hosts looked to preserve their lead.

Any chance of a late FC Barcelona comeback was killed off with 25 minutes to go as substitute Arturo Vidal conceded a penalty for handball, which was signaled by referee Cuadra Fernández, whose decision was confirmed beyond any doubt by VAR. Alvaro Vadillo, who had come on as a substitute, then scored from the spot to make it 2-0.

All of the Granada turned in a terrific performance on the night. In particular, Ángel Montoro gave the side the rhythm needed at every moment. When he had to play wide, he did it. When he elected to change the side of attack, both Machís and especially Puertas, benefitted from his decisions. And when he has to find Yangel Herrera o Azeez inside, he executed it with certainty.

With the win Granada CF sit third in the La Liga table. They actually briefly were first after the win, prior to Sunday’s games. When the calendar came out in July, even the most optimistic fans of the club could not possibly have imagined that after 5 games, the team would have 25 % of the points needed to survive relegation.

La Liga.com Match statistics, Minute by minute, Lineups / Estadísticas, Minuto a minuto, Alineaciones

DID YOU KNOW? This was only the fifth time in history that Granada’s have beaten Barcelona. It is also the first time since 1944 that they have scored more than one goal against Barça.


Galeria Gráfica / Photos

Crónica en español

El Granada hace historia con un partidazo ante el Barcelona (2-0)

El conjunto de Diego Martínez se impone con total merecimiento al actual campeón de La Liga

El Cuadro de Nazarí mostró los argumentos que le hicieron ascender.

Diez puntos suma ya el cuadro de Diego Martínez, lo que es decir, el 25 % de los necesarios para salvarse.

Fue un histórico triunfo del Granada CF frente al FC Barcelona para colocarse como uno de los dos mejores de LaLiga Santander. Los goles de Ramón Azeez y Álvaro Vadillo (de penalti) demonstraron la superioridad de los 11 de Diego Martínez frente a un Barça sin ideas que ni Messi pudo reactivar. 

Cuando allá por el mes de julio salió el calendario, pocos podían imaginar que tras la disputa de las cinco primeras jornadas, el Granada CF tendría el 25% de los guarismos necesarios para salvarse. Diez puntos que saben a gloria tras vencer al Barcelona (2-0) y que permitieron al conjunto rojiblanco dormir como líder de LaLiga Santander. Y lo hicieron por méritos propios, con los argumentos que han llevado a volver a ilusionar a toda una ciudad.

El mejor guión

Si a Diego Martínez le hubieran pedido que hiciera un guión del partido, seguramente habría soñado con un choque como el que hicieron sus jugadores ante el campeón de liga. Intensidad, hambre, orden, coberturas perfectas, ayudas y automatismos que seguramente Ernesto Valverde hubiera querido para su equipo. Y encima, un gol en la primera acción de ataque. Lo soñado por todos.

Los rojiblancos se adelantaron a los dos minutos, gracias a las ganas que pusieron en un balón dividido de Puertas con Lenglet, en una acción en la que los culés reclamaron falta. Pero Cuadra Fernández no lo estimó, ni el VAR tampoco. El almeriense, tras un excepcional pase de Soldado, se internó en el área y centró, tocando Piqué el esférico que se elevó para que Azeez remachara en boca de gol para delirio de Los Cármenes, que se frotaban los ojos ante tanta eficacia.

El Barça comenzó a dominar el esférico pero sin profundidad. El sistema defensivo de los nazaríes se le atragantó a los de Valverde, incapaces de superar las dos líneas ordenadas desde el banquillo. Pero es que cuando tenían los locales el balón, lo cuidaron con mimo. En especial, Ángel Montoro, que le dio el ritmo que necesitaba al partido en cada momento. Si había que jugar en largo, lo hacía. Que tocaba cambios de orientación, tanto Machís como, especialmente, Puertas, se beneficiaban de ello. Y si lo ideal era asociarse por dentro con Yangel Herrera o Azeez, lo ejecutaba con acierto.

Pocas Ocasiones

Ello incomodó al Barça, que no tuvo profundidad, con un Griezmann desaparecido, Luis Suárez desasistido y con Carles Pérez como único estilete con algo más de peligro por banda derecha, aprovechando su velocidad ante un debutante en Primera, el canterano Carlos Neva.

Las ocasiones no es que fueran numerosas, pero si hubo un equipo que lo intentó, ese fue el Granada CF. Puertas, Neva o Yangel Herrera lo intentaron desde fuera del área y casi siempre para cerrar una contra. Y, todo ello con Piqué en el campo, que pudo ser expulsado por una agresión a Machís en el 18’por la que pudo ver perfectamente roja. Acción que repitió en el descuento del primer acto, donde sí vio cartulina.

“Sí, Se Puede”

De hecho, la mejor ocasión visitante llegó en el añadido con un remate mordido de Luis Suárez que Puertas supo despejar en línea de gol. No habría sido justo que llegara el empate ante el esfuerzo descomunal de los rojiblancos, que fueron despedidos con una sonora ovación de su afición al grito de “¡Sí se puede!”.

Valverde era consciente de que caer en Granada generaría una enorme crisis y apostó por sacar todo su arsenal ofensivo. Dio entrada a Leo Messi y Ansu Fati, situando al astro argentino por detrás de los tres atacantes. Pero no era el día del conjunto con mayor límite salarial de la competición. Y no lo era porque enfrente se encontró con un grupo de jugadores humildes que se dejaron todo en cada duelo individual, que presionaron en bloque, con intensidad pero que, sobre todo, tenían el hambre que las estrellas culés no tienen a día de hoy. Y eso es mucho.

Riesgo

Porque, pese jugar con hasta cuatro delanteros, Rui Silva no pasó por excesivos apuros, logrando así su tercera puerta a cero de manera consecutiva gracias, además, a que todos sus compañeros se afanaron en proteger el arco nazarí. Con tanto riesgo asumido, lo normal era que, a la contra, el Granada CF pudiera hacerle daño a su rival. Y, aunque no tuvieron el acierto ni los efectivos necesarios porque el objetivo era evitar que el Barcelona se metiera en el partido, cada opción había que aprovecharla. Y así lo hicieron los de Diego Martínez.

Fue por medio de una falta lateral que ejecutó Vadillo y que Arturo Vidal tocó con el brazo demasiado extendido. El colegiado tuvo que acudir por primera vez en la historia en Los Cármenes a la pantalla del VAR y señaló penalti. El propio extremo gaditano ejecutó magistralmente la pena máxima para júbilo de los seguidores granadinos, que no todos los que acudieron a la instalación del Zaidín iban con el equipo de su tierra, por cierto.

Fiesta

Con 2-0, el choque se puso muy de cara para hacer una de las cosas que mejor sabe hacer el Granada CF, que no es otra cosa que dormir los partidos. Pese a que el Barça lo intentó, no tuvo ideas y sí demasiadas imprecisiones. Y tampoco es que los locales se encerraran atrás. Todo lo contrario. Siguieron presionando a destajo, como si cada balón fuera el último de la temporada. Unas ganas que la grada agradeció con ovaciones constantes, como la que llegó en el 90’ con todo el equipo en campo contrario. No era para menos. Se estaba cerca de vencer al actual campeón, cosa que se confirmó y que la plantilla, en el campo y en el banquillo, celebró como si de un ascenso se tratara. El matagigantes ha vuelto. Y todo con Ivan Rakitic en la cancha.

Highlights / Destacados


Sources: Granada Hoy, YouTube, La Liga, Granada CF, FC Barcelona

Images by Alex Camara

Más imágenes del Granada-Barcelona:

Cronica

Directo

Playing With Conviction

Granada CF currently tied for 5th in La Liga table after 4 rounds.

Miami, Fla, 16 September 2019

It’s early in the season, but after four rounds of La Liga, fans of Granada CF are probably surprised by the club’s performance thus far: two wins, one draw and one loss. For a team which is one of the favourites to finish in the bottom three, these are good times in Andalucía.

The season has seen Granada open the campaign with a 4-4 goleado at the Cerámica against Villarreal, followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat at home against currently first-place Sevilla. Then came a surprising 3-0 win away at the RCD Espanyol stadium over the Péricos before the international break, and proving that was no fluke, winning over the weekend 2-0 at Celta de Vigo. The team has also scored 9 goals while conceding 5 (+4 differential).

Germán Sanchez heads home a goal in first half stoppage time.

Granada are coached by Diego Martinez who at 38 years old is young for a manager, but has a wealth of coaching experience having retired from playing at the age of just 20. He has steadily built his way up since, spending seven years on the coaching staff at Sevilla before getting his big break with Osasuna in 2017-18. His switch to Granada last summer ultimately worked out well for both clubs with Osasuna the other side to achieve direct promotion from the Segunda last season.

Sunday’s Result Versus Celta

Manager Diego Martínez said in the pre-game press conference that “we approach every game with maximum confidence and thinking that we can win.” And win they did, though the game didn’t go according to plan. Nonetheless, Granada’s win on Sunday came exactly 61 years after their last victory in Vigo. The game itself will likely be remembered more for the deployment of VAR than much else. Under unusually warm, sunny skies and dry conditions, something not that common in this part of Spain, the most influential person on the pitch was referee Prieto Iglesias, who issued not one but two red cards after consulting VAR that reduced Celta to nine men before 30 minutes had been played.

Referee Prieto Iglesias issues red card to Celta’s midfielder Fran Beltran in the 28′

Granada found the back of the net in first half stoppage time on a nice header from Germán Sanchez and again shortly after the restart, when, in minute 53, Yangel Herrera unleashed a blast that nearly destroyed the crossbar on its way in. From that point on, it was game over.


Related:

Summer Transfer Market: La Liga Santander And La Liga Smartbank Summer Transfer Market 2019 | Mercado de Fichajes 2019

A closer look at the squad: Granada CF (Transfermarkt)


At the post game press conference following the 2-0 victory, Manager Diego Martínez characterised it as a “marvellous victory,” adding that if someone had told him his club would have seven points after its first four matches it would have been beyond all imagination.

“Es una victoria maravillosa para un equipo recién ascendido como nosotros. Cuando salió el calendario, si nos dicen que vamos a tener siete puntos, no se lo hubiera imaginado ni el más optimista”.

One of the biggest tests of the season awaits the Nazarí side this weekend, as defending champions Barcelona make a visit to the Nuevo Estádio de Los Cármenes. Barcelona is playing well even in the absence of Lionel Messi, and has seen excellent performances turned in by young players such a Frenkie de Jong and 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati.

Discussing the upcoming game, Diego Martínez said he is hoping for a full stadium that supports Granada, and pledged that his team will approach every game as if it was the last.


Continue reading Playing With Conviction

Granada CF returns to La Liga

Nerja, Málaga, España (lunes 19 de agosto de 2019) – Kenneth Russo

Granada Club de Fútbol is back in La Liga Santander, and the primary mission this season will be to survive in the top flight of Spanish football. The beginning of a new season is always filled with anticipation, and the battle for la permanencia began with a goleado, a wild encounter Saturday night at the Estadio de la Cerámica in Villarreal, where the rojiblancos produced a 4-4 draw with Villarreal.

Antonio Puertas scored the goal that earned the away point. Manager Diego Martínez, who is the youngest head coach in La Liga, said, “We are a team that believes.” That belief will receive a second test at home this Friday as Sevilla FC come to Granada.

El Granada Club de Fútbol está de vuelta en La Liga Santander, y la misión principal de esta temporada será sobrevivir en la máxima categoría del fútbol español. El comienzo de una nueva temporada siempre está lleno de anticipación, y la batalla por la permanencia comenzó con un goleado, un encuentro salvaje el sábado por la noche en el Estadio de la Cerámica en Villarreal, donde los rojiblancos produjeron un empate 4-4 con Villarreal.

Antonio Puertas marcó el gol que le valió el punto como visitante. El gerente Diego Martínez, quien es el entrenador más joven en La Liga, dijo: “Somos un equipo que cree”. Esa creencia recibirá una segunda prueba en casa este viernes cuando el Sevilla FC visita al Granada.