Welcome back to TalkBarca. Our topic for today is the Match Review of Barcelona vs Espanyol. Barcelona has somehow clinched a win in a game where winning was a must. This victory has ensured that Espanyol is now relegated, and Barcelona got the much needed 3 points. However, the victory was not a pretty big one in terms of scores. Barcelona won 1-0 and that goal came off from Luis Suarez. Other than that, none of our players managed to hit the back of the net. However, there are still some appreciable performances despite the 1-0 scoreline. Let’s get started!
I think that this victory was much needed and we must be thankful that we got the three points. However, I am not pleased with our performance. It is one of those games where Barcelona gets lucky for a moment or two and that moment of luck brings us the three points. This is not the first time in this season that Barcelona was able to get 3 lucky points. We saw this happening against Athletic Bilbao as well. Therefore, my worries are still there. We are so good in the previous game. I thought good days were coming back.
However, this performance once again shut down all the positivity in my heart. We lacked creativity in this fixture. Our game-play did not look positive at all. Our players were sluggish. The first half was slow for us. Every player looked slow and tired. It seemed as if the age factor of the majority of the players in our squad was exposed in the first half. However, the gameplay picked up some pace in the second half. There was this 10 minute time period where everything was rapid. I’ll talk about the first and second halves separately.
BARCELONA VS ESPANYOL MATCH REVIEW
The victory against Espanyol means a lot to the Barcelona fans. It was obvious as there were fireworks and celebrations outside the Camp Nou stadium when the final whistle was blown. Espanyol FC is now relegated to the Segunda B league in Spanish football. Espanyol was already struggling a lot in their previous games and they also struggled to find the equalizer against Barcelona as well. However, there were a few moments when the opposition players pushed us hard and tested our limits. Our defense was exposed as well, but Ter Stegen kept us alive.
This game also had plenty of drama. Both teams ended with 10 men. It was Ansu Fati from FC Barcelona who was sent off first. Later, it was Pol Lozano from Espanyol who left the field with a red card booking. I won’t comment if both of the red cards were fair or not. However, it was a real drama indeed. Ansu Fati was given a yellow card first, but it was converted to red after his challenge was viewed with VAR. What’s funnier is that the same thing happened to Lozano as well. First yellow, then red.
I mentioned it above as well that Barcelona had a sloppy and sluggish start. Barca did dominate the possession. We kept more of the ball and kept rotating it making it difficult for the opposition to get a hold of it. However, our possession never made us look lethal. I think Espanyol was ok with us having the ball simply because we were not doing much with it. Barcelona failed to create any sort of threat or attacking impact in the first half. Lionel Messi got a freekick after Griezmann was fouled near the box. That was Barca’s best chance.
Other than that, we never looked as if we were in the mood of scoring a goal. I talked about this in my previous paragraphs as well that our players looked tired and it was visible that the age factor was kicking in. Gerrard Pique looked incredibly slow and so did other players. Espanyol looked dangerous more than a few times. They created two amazing chances. Ter Stegen was involved a lot in the first half. Espanyol made sure that they keep him on this toes. He made a couple of crucial saves in the 10th minute of the game.
Furthermore, Espanyol also hit the post in the dying minutes of the first half (around 44th minute). This shows that luck favored us as well. Our defense was opened up quite a few times, and it was Stegen’s expertise that he ended the game with a clean sheet. His defense simply did not help at all. Gerrard and Clement failed to read Espanyol’s game at times and this made Ter Stegen’s life hard. However, he stood solid like he mostly does and managed to keep a clean sheet for himself and the team. The first half ended at 0-0.
Setien introduced Ansu Fati right at the beginning of the second half. I think it was a positive decision, and I was personally really excited when Fati stepped in. The reason behind it was that we needed someone to provide us more support from the wider angles and Fati was the perfect man to do it. Setien also made a change in his lineup by bringing in Fati (Lineup details later). He introduced a full attacking formation with Fati alongside three more attackers. This left 2 midfielders in between. Griezmann and Lionel were dropping down to connect with the midfield.
It was looking really good and it felt as if things were going to fire up. However, just 4 minutes later at the 49th minute, Fati was involved in a tackle to Espanyol player. You already know about it as we talked about it above. Fati was given a red card after his tackle was checked with VAR. This was a major turn off. However, minutes later Lozano also picked up a red card after he badly tackled Gerrard Pique. Both teams were drawn down to 10 men. However, the game picked up some pace from both sides.
Luis Suarez scored the only goal in this game in the 56th minute of the game. It was a brilliant play from the MSG trio Griezmann back-heeled the ball to Messi who laid it to Suarez. It was a typical Suarez finish from Suarez, and was a typical Suarez performance overall. He was silent and not doing much in the entire match and ended up scoring a goal in the end. It was a poacher goal. However, it came off as the only goal in the game and it leads us to the win. We ended with 3 points.
BARCELONA VS ESPANYOL STARTING LINEUP
Marc Andre Ter Stegen started in goal. Ter kept another clean sheet after 2 or 3 games. I have this firm opinion that Stegen deserves to have more clean sheets than Thibaut Courtois and Oblak. The problem is that Ter Stegen is behind a defense who is struggling to make an impact. This is not the case with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Hence, their keepers have more number of clean sheets. I think Oblak is better than Courtois, but he falls behind when it comes to the clean sheets figures. The reason is the same in this case as well.
Ter Stegen once again showed his world-class quality in this fixture as well. Our defense was opened up multiple times by Espanyol. The opposition attackers tested our abilities especially at the beginning of the first half. However, it was Ter Stegen who made sure that he stands firm for his team. Our defense is also really confident at times. They know that Ter Stegen can make up for their mistakes. However, this should not be the case. Our defenders must be aware of their roles and must not make the same mistakes every time.
Gerrard Pique and Clement Lenglet started as the Center Backs. I have said this already in my previous paragraphs that both of them were not up to the mark in this game. I was not satisfied watching them play, and I think that they needed to put in more work. Yes, they deserve some credit as well because they are aging especially Pique. However, they must know what their responsibilities are and act accordingly. This is why Barcelona desperately needs to sign Center Backs in summer. Furthermore, Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba started as Right-Back and Left-Back respectively.
Quique Setien started with three midfielders namely Rakitic, Busquests, and Roberto. I mentioned in my Match Preview that it was likely to happen and so it did. I think it was an ok display from the midfield overall. No one was bringing in the spark and the life which was needed in the midfield. All of them were slow and seemed to be uninterested to be a part of the game. I have said this thing about everyone being slow a couple of times in this article. I am going to keep repeating it because it is a plain fact.
This fact applies to the defenders, midfielders as well as the attackers. Rakitic and Busquests are in good form I think. Roberto seems to be making a pretty strong come back as well. However, there is a problem. This midfield was lacking the energy and the thrill. This is where we badly needed Puig. Where was he? Why did we not see Puig play? I have this complaint against Setien about not bringing Puig. We know we need to give him maximum playing time to polish him. This was the perfect scenario for him to come and shine. *Sighs*
Wingers and Striker:
Griezmann, Suarez, and Messi started as the forward three. The lineup and the tactics were the same as the previous game. All three attackers operated within a narrow space. Griezmann operated more on the left side meanwhile Messi played more in the center. This allowed more space for Semedo and Alba to be a part of the attack more often. Furthermore, I think the best out of three attackers was hands down Griezmann. Messi was denied a couple of times and he also hit the bar once. However, I think Griezmann was once again superb in this game.
Antoine has this habit of being a hard worker on the pitch. He is something more than a striker. He is a tireless worker and is always ready to give a lot to the team. I think this is one of the reasons that he deserves a lot of credit. It was his second consecutive game in which he started for us (After a long time). He has performed well in both and this shows that it was our loss keeping him on the bench. I think it’s time that Setien has finally realized what is Griezmann capable of doing.
I think it was not a pleasing performance from Barcelona. There are a lot of questions to ask and there is a lot going wrong for us. However, I think we should take the win and move ahead. La Liga is still somewhat possible for us. I think Quique is bringing in some positivity into our gameplay. However, he has his flaws as well which he needs to improve on.
This is it from the Barcelona vs Espanol Match Review guys. Stay tuned for more previews, reviews, and other news related to Barcelona.
We have a lot of content coming up for you. Let us know what do you think about this new format of Match Previews and Reviews in which we discuss the game in more detail? I think that the content is more engaging and enjoyable to read in this way. Let me know your thoughts as well. I have another upcoming article about this game regarding what we learned from this encounter against Espanyol. Make sure you provide me with your feedback here and over there as well. Your comments mean a lot to me. Stay tuned guys.
Until the next time, VISCA EL BARCA!