Pitiful Barcelona deservedly fall to Almeria
With Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw to Atletico Madrid the day before, Barcelona had a golden opportunity to pick up a win and increase their lead to 10 points and all but pull away from Los Blancos.
Against Almeria, they did anything but.
The Catalan side put in their worst performance of the season and lost 1-0 to Almeria thanks to a goal from El Bilal Touré.
Xavi sent out a rotated side on defense with Sergi Roberto, Andreas Christensen, Eric Garcia and Jordi Alba filling out the backline. Without Pedri, Ousmane Dembélé and Ansu Fati, the midfield and the attack was the usual suspects.
It didn’t take long to see it was going to be one of those games for Barcelona where they come out with no sense of urgency and intensity and get caught out by a side who knows they can get at them. So it came to pass with the opener as Touré got away from Christensen and was able to withstand pressure from the Danish defender before he struck one off the crossbar and into the net.
Already down one, it was evident it was going to be an arduous task for Barcelona to claw back.
Barcelona’s attack was non-existent with no cohesion and crosses from Jordi Alba that were either hopeful or struck the defender. The hopeful crosses would end up becoming a theme later on.
Raphinha was brought on in place of Franck Kessie to start the second half but the Brazilian was largely ineffective. Xavi then brought on Marcos Alonso and Ronald Araújo in place of Eric Garcia and Jordi Alba.
With bringing on two defenders, the plan seemed to switch to launching the ball inside the box and hoping either the Uruguayan or Robert Lewandowski connected. Time after time, a Barcelona sent in a cross from the flank, midfield, you name it. Those crosses caused little to no problems for the Almeria defense.
On the few occasions they found a Barcelona player, they failed to make the proper contact or they went wide.
Angel Alarcon would replace Sergio Busquets and, with 15 minutes to go, Pablo Torre replaced Sergi Roberto. Out of all the substitutions made by Xavi, it was the youngsters who had the most impact. It was Alarcon who had the club’s only shot on goal, which came in the 81st minute.
Barcelona failed to really threaten after that and deserved to lose against an Almeria side who didn’t have to do too much after the goal. They were helped out massively from Barcelona who lacked any kind of idea or cutting edge. Lewandowski was forced to drop deep on several occasions and received very little delivery despite the countless number of crosses.
Instead of turning the page after the Europa League elimination to Manchester United, they seemed to carry it over despite the talk inside the dressing room that a win against Almeria was not an opportunity they could do so. Not only did they pass it up, they did so in spectacular fashion.
Eric Garcia summed it up best during his post match interview.
“We have not come out with the same intensity as they have. It sucks.”
Barcelona are going to have to massively improve and they’re going to have to do it quick as their next match is the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals against Real Madrid. After an already difficult week, it can still get worse should they fall to their biggest rivals.