Welcome back to TalkBarca. Our topic for today is the Match Review of Espanyol vs Barcelona. La Liga action returned this weekend where Barcelona traveled away from home to face the unexpectedly tougher side of Espanyol. As we mentioned in our Match Preview, Espanyol is 20th on the points table. However, they can be really lethal against Barcelona. And, this is exactly what happened in the Barcelona Local Derby. Espanyol played really good football and the match ended as a 2-2 draw. Frenkie De Jong ended up getting a red card and Lionel Messi failed to impact this game in any major way.
A lot went right for us in the fixture against Espanyol. However, a lot of things went wrong as well. First of all, Messi failed to impact the game in any positive way. He lost possession way more times and was not able to dribble properly. He did make a good dribble once or twice but that was of no benefit for the team. There were a lot of mistakes in Ernesto’s lineup as well. We are still on top of the La Liga Table. However, we are now level with Real Madrid on points.
Barcelona now has 40 points and is above Real Madrid due to a better Goal Difference. This is not a good sign. We have to start taking things seriously now. Every game is important, and we need to make sure that we start winning matches. Our unbeaten streak is still intact, but, we need to make sure that we avoid dropping points. Furthermore, we know that Real has easier fixtures than us, therefore, it is really possible that Real wins all of their games this month. If we continue like this, we’ll get left behind in the shadows of Real Madrid. So, without any further delay, let’s start our Match Review of Espanyol vs Barcelona.
ESPANYOL VS BARCELONA MATCH REVIEW
Barcelona started the game with an attacking approach. Espanyol was happy to receive the pressure as they were sitting deep into their half. Their focus was to hit us on counter attacks as we were playing with a very high line. With the passage of time, Espanyol gained control and started to attack us. The first goal for Espanyol came from David Lopen in the 23rd minute with a brilliant header from a freekick. The crowd got right behind the home team and boosted their morale. Barcelona could create only one goalscoring chance in the first half and that was from the header of Lionel Messi.
Barcelona made a switch in the midfield and introduced Vidal in place of Rakitic. The momentum changed in our favor with the physicality and aggression of Vidal. Luis Suarez equalized the score in the 50th minute with a brilliant first-time finish in the left corner from a brilliant cross from Jordi Alba. 9 minutes later, Vidal took the lead for Barcelona with a powerful header from a beautiful outside foot cross from Luis Suarez.
Espanyol was desperate to get a goal and initiated a quick counter-attack. De Jong stepped up and stopped the counter-attack but it was a foul and he ended up getting a yellow card. It was a necessary yellow card to stop the risk of conceding a goal. Frankie De Jong got his second Yellow card in the 75th minute for a sloppy challenge and left Barcelona with 10 men. Valverde made a tactical change by bringing in Semedo for Griezmann and Roberto moved to the midfield.
Barcelona still went on the attack to kill the game leaving a huge space behind. Espanyol originated a counter-attack and exploited that space. It was Wu Lie who scored the equalizer in the 88th minute and stole 2 points from us. The match ended in a 2-2 draw as Barcelona couldn’t maintain the 2 points lead from Real Madrid. We are still on top of the La Liga table with 40 points only ahead of Real Madrid on Goal Difference.
Neto started in goal. It is obvious to see Neto starting in goal because Ter Stegen was out injured. We are soon going to cover an article on injury updates, so make sure to check out Ter Stegen’s progress over there. Ter Stegen’s absence is a huge loss for us. We know how important he is to us.
Neto, on the other hand, was not able to fully fill in the shoes of Ter Stegen. It was his La Liga Debut for Blaugrana and he conceded two goals in it. To be honest, I think Neto had a pretty decent outing. He couldn’t have done anything about the first goal. However, I think the second goal could have been stopped if he stretched a little bit further.
Lastly, we also learned a lesson that we must keep using Neto if we want to get the best out of him. Injury can occur to any player, at any moment. Therefore, Valverde has to use Neto more often which will also give rest to Ter Stegen.
Gerrard Pique, and Clement Lenglet started as Center Backs. Both of them played dull, and there was no spark about their performances. Pique is once again back to his old sluggish form after performing well in the Classico. This shows that Pique’s sluggish attitude on the pitch is somewhat intentional. We saw him playing excellent football and doing brave defending when we really needed him in an intense game. So, why is this not happening on a consistent basis? Is it coincident? I guess not. I think Pique needs to get back into his full game form or make way for someone else.
Lenglet is also not doing anything worthy as a central defender. Yes, he does make passes and stays at his position all the time, but he is doing nothing significant. As a matter of fact, Clement was somewhere the reason we conceded our second goal. We know that Lenglet isn’t a pacy defender and almost every attacker can outrun him in a footrace. Therefore, he has to work on his agility and positioning to cover up for his low pace.
Jordi Alba played on the Left Back and had an amazing game. Jordi also got an assist and he was always there in the final third, as well as, the defending areas. He played his heart out like a pure lion. He played with full passion and it is really positive to see this kind of performance from him. Sergio Roberto played on the Right Back. He also had a great game, and I am satisfied with the way he played. We saw the peak of Roberto and Alba in this game. I am actually glad about the form of our fullbacks.
Our midfield did not click much in this game. De Jong ended up with a red card as we mentioned earlier. His red card came due to two successive yellow cards. In my opinion, he deserved the booking on both incidents. Other than that, he was really good in the entire game. He is wonderful and a gem of a player. I am truly amazed by what he does on the pitch week in week out.
This is truly one of the best signings Barcelona has ever made. De Jong is going to take Barcelona to glory days and I can feel this. He not only performed great in this fixture but also is the most consistent performer for us since the start of the season. He partnered up with Sergio Busquests in the midfield who also had a good game. Busquets was composed and made a few crucial passes. Rakitic started in the midfield alongside these two but there was nothing significant from him.
Vidal came in the second half to replace Rakitic. Vidal, electrified things in the midfield department. He also ended up on the scoresheet from a good outside foot cross from Luis Suarez. That was a really easy header for someone with the quality of Vidal. I am a big fan of how Vidal plays. He really lifts the mood in the midfield. Vidal is the reason we get a lot of energy and he usually reverses the mood in the midfield if it is getting dull.
Our attackers also performed well except Lionel Messi. Suarez was in great touch and he registered his name on the scoresheet as well as on the assist providers list. Suarez was easily the best performers of this game. He played with aggression and made sure that he trouble the opposition defenders a lot. Griezmann was in great touch as well. He made good runs and connected plays really nicely with Luis Suarez.
However, Messi was really silent. How often do we see this happening? Well, not very often, but, it did happen in this game. Messi lost the ball a lot of times and failed to be clinical at all. I hope that this was only a one-time incident as we don’t want to see this happening again. Furthermore, I also hope that we start winning games from now on because we really need to take the lead in the La Liga race. Messi has to step up for us to be successful. We know that the entire club depends upon him and he needs to show this on the pitch. He needs to show that he has the intent to perform for us and I am sure he will.
Without a doubt, Suarez was the best performer on the pitch. He was always present in the attack to help his team and made sure to keep the opposition defenders on their toes. He provided as assist to Vidal, and also scored a brilliant first-time goal. His goal shows that he is aware of where the goal is, and scoring goals is natural for him. That was a brilliant example of awareness and good touch from Luis Suarez which ended up in the back of the net. I hope he keeps performing in the same way in the upcoming games.
Let’s start our Tactical Analysis of Espanyol vs Barcelona. Tactically, we were not the better side. First of all, Ernesto’s choice in the midfield was not correct. He chose De Jong, and Busquests to start which is a great decision, but, alongside them, he chose Rakitic. De Jong and Busquests are the kind of players who play defensively and are really comfortable under a high pressing situation. However, this is not the case with Rakitic. Rakitic is also a defensive player, but, he is certainly not comfortable under high press. Rakitic needed to be on the bench.
We saw clearly how the game changed after his substitution. Arturo Vidal brought life back in our midfield and he made sure that we move with the right energy. Vidal is more of an attack-oriented midfielder and he made sure to live up to his respect. Vidal completely changed the atmosphere of the game. He made sure that our players move constantly and that we step out of the defensive zone to attack the opposition. He even scored a goal and that goal heavily lifted our morale. Barcelona gained back the energy after that goal and this is why Arturo needed to start the game.
None of the two goals scored by Espanyol were their individual brilliance. I think we made errors that lead to tose goals. First of all, Suarez was present in the box while the freekick was taken. Honestly, Suarez is a striker, and it is true that strikers do drop down to help the team, but, they don’t come across their defenders. This is exactly what happened prior to conceding our first goal. Suarez should have been outside the box standing beside the last defender of Espanyol so that he can react faster in case of a counter-attack. Instead, he chose to be in the box and distracted the defenders. Moreover, 4 Espanyol players would have been offside, including the goal scorer, if Suarez wasn’t there.
For the second goal, our defenders gave dream space and time to Wu Lei to finish the ball. There was no defender marking him. Neto could have stretched an extra inch to make the save, but, honestly, he is not to be blamed. As a matter of fact, this was the mistake of our defenders and we need to make sure to improve our defense. This cannot continue for long. We need to make sure that we improve on our mistakes, otherwise, things can get bad for us in the later parts of the season.
Anyways, guys, this is it from the Match Review of Espanyol vs FC Barcelona. I hope you like Match Review and Tactical Analysis. Please drop down your feedback in the comments section below. Your comments motivate us to work harder and work with consistency. Therefore, feel free to write to us anytime. Until the next time guys, Visca El Barca!