Whenever Barcelona have been called upon to step up in an important game, more often than not, the Catalan has failed to do so. Such was the case against Girona.
While they didn’t lose, Barcelona blew the opportunity to go 15 points in front of Real Madrid as they were held to a draw by Girona.
In fact, Girona had the clearest goal-scoring chance of the game as Taty Castellanos was through on goal in the second-half only to pull his shot wide in a one-on-one against Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Barcelona started the game rather well with Ansu Fati and Robert Lewandowski having early cracks at goal. However, their best chance came late in the first half through Ronald Araújo. The Uruguayan center-back connected from a corner but Paulo Gazzaniga cleared the ball only centimeters away from crossing the line.
The first half was the highlight for a Barcelona side who were bereft of ideas and resorted to sending in crosses and hoping Lewandowski could connect. Creativity from the midfield was almost non-existent and the wingers once again struggled, with Xavi unwilling to use some of the youth players on the bench, instead opting from players who have already shown they lack confidence and whose contributions are limited.
Jordi Alba, who was brought on with 15 minutes to go, played as a winger on the left, a telling sign of Xavi’s attacking depth. What’s worse is Barcelona actually looked more dangerous when he came on.
On the whole, Barcelona could consider themselves fortunate to come out with a draw as Girona were well-organized but also threatening going forward.
"“It was a very tough game, Girona played really well. We did well in the high press, but again we could not score,” Xavi said after the game. “It is a pity because we wanted to move 15 points clear of Real Madrid, but this is football. I think you have to value a lot the position we are in [at the top of LaLiga].”Source: ESPN"
Instead of increasing their lead to 15 points, Xavi and his side had to settle for 13, which on its face is not a bad thing.
However, the performance against Girona further highlighted the lack of edge in attack as well as how limited they are in midfield without Pedri and Frenkie de Jong. It also marked another home game where they failed to score, following the blowout loss midweek against Real Madrid.
Some of the old habits are rearing their ugly heads once again as the few chances Barcelona are able to create, they can’t put away. The lack of goals has seemingly caused Lewandowski to go through a rough patch as the striker had a couple of chances that he would usually put away. But he took one too many touches, ultimately causing the Girona defenders to dispose him or get in the way for a simple block.
“The responsibility to score is on all the team,” Xavi said. “We played a good game, we were just missing the goal. We tried everything, but it was not possible today.”
Again, Barcelona still hold a more than comfortable lead in LaLiga. But the vibes, so to speak, are not good at all. Xavi hasn’t made things any easier as he continues to trust players who haven’t been up to par. It’s one of the reasons why some are surprised he hasn’t given more of an opportunity to a player like Pablo Torre or Angel Alarcon instead of Sergi Roberto and Ferran Torres.
Things don’t get easier as their next game is away to a Getafe side who know how to cause Barcelona problems. On the bright side, there could be some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to injuries as Barcelona could see the return of Frenkie de Jong should his recovery stay on course.