Shall We Have A Mini Crisis? Granada – Barça

Liga Preview: Granada – Barcelona, 2pm ET (ESPNDeportes and GolTV*)

If you’re a minnow and you beat Villarreal, you can feel pretty good about yourself. Maybe the season won’t be quite so long after all. But if you’re Granada, you realize that it’s your only win of the season and Villarreal is in 16th place in the table. They themselves only have 1 win and it was against Mallorca. Then you consider that your only 2 other points of the season have come at home against Osasuna and Atleti; at least the first match had some goals in it. But goals aren’t really your thing: in 8 matches, you’ve scored just those aforementioned 2 goals , the fewest in the league.

So perhaps you really are in trouble.

And then along comes a ticked off Pep Guardiola. Make no mistake about it, whatever he says in press conferences, which might as well be him staring at a wall for all the information he really gives us, Pep Guardiola is pissed about not winning against Sevilla. So it’s Granada-on-the-rebound time and it’s kind of the perfect match to get your feet back under you and really kick some prostate. If it goes pear shaped here, however, alarm bells will start blazing at unbelievable volume. What if Messi fails to score again? What if Granada doesn’t succumb to a manita like they’re supposed to?

Well then I guess we’re all doomed. I have my bottle of Trauma Reliever right here ready and waiting for the slightest sign that we’re not going to win every single remaining point.

You know what the craziest part of all this is, though? Granada isn’t last in the table! 2 goals for, 10 allowed, and they’re in 18th somehow. Sporting and Racing are somehow worse, though Sporting did just get off the snide and beat, well, yeah, Granada. It was, however, just the 2nd match in which Granada has allowed multiple goals, so I guess that’s something. Here’s another something: the guy who scored the winner against Villarreal was none other than Ikechukwu Uche, the man Granada got on loan from the Yellow Submarine this past summer. Totally rad.

In that match against Villarreal, Granada managed 7 yellow cards (7!), but has only 21 for the whole year, putting them midtable in one category, at least. They also have 0 red cards, putting them with Barça, Atleti, and Levante as the only teams without rojas this year. Barça has 13 yellows, just for comparison.

But they also only have 5 points on the road. 3 matches and no losses but also just 5 goals to 4 allowed. Granada may think they can nip a point by playing the way Sevilla did and perhaps they’re right, but again, Guardiola is going to lay some smackdown in training and in the locker room before sending his boys out. The engine should be powered up, regardless of whether or not it’s purring wonderfully.

The squad: Valdés, Pinto, Dani Alves, Cesc, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Messi, Thiago, Mascherano, Keita, Sergio, Pedro, Maxwell, Adriano, Abidal, Fontàs, Montoya, Isaac Cuenca.

Will we get to see Fontàs or will Maxwell start on the left to give Adriano a bit of a breather? With no Puyol or Pique, it strikes me as likely that we’ll see Alves-Mascherano-Abidal-Maxwell. Pique did practice with everyone else while Puyol and Alexis worked out all alone nearby (embedded below), but none of them are fit enough to play so we’ll be a bit scrambly-wambly on defense unless Busi has a monster game, which I expect needs to happen.

What I mean about Busi is that I thought we failed to get ahold of Sevilla because our midfield wasn’t quite running at optimal speed. I don’t care much for Iniesta up front, I have to admit, but I care even less for Keita at DM. It not only means Keita isn’t playing his shutdown roll against any winger silly enough to sally forth from his defensive end, it means that he’s doing the one thing he’s not super totally rad at: creating off the dribble. Yes, Keita is a fantastic midfielder, but he doesn’t facilite Xavi’s maestro thing quite like Busi does. Which is also funny because I really like that Keita is willing to step up and shoot from distance, which Busi simply doesn’t do.

Lineup: Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Abidal, Maxwell, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Villa, Messi.

I like Pedro a lot and think he should start, but they still won’t let us play with 12, so I guess he’s going to have to sit until it’s time to sub on and get all crazy out there.

Official Prediction: 0-2, goals by Messi and Cesc. Why bet on anyone other than Messi to get goals? What would be the point?

Drink of choice: Anything with granadadine in it, obviously.

Note: I’ll update this post soon with TV information for here in the US, but feel free to post it in the comments for your location and time.

*Update: the top has been updated with the information, but while the onlines says that both ESPN Deportes and GolTV will show the game, my TV box says only ESPN Deportes will show it. So, I’m not totally sure.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.

172 comments

  1. Need more quick switches to the left and Pep to tell Maxwell to make the runs. He’s playing too conservatively for playing against 10 men.

  2. On for Cesc. Hasn’t had a good game but wouldn’t have been my shout. That’s quite defensive.

  3. Messi has lost the last 5 balls that came to his way. It’s the worst game I’ve seen him play in a while. I read that maybe, the training is getting more physical to gain fitness for late november-decembre, for the clasico and the world cup.

  4. I want both Pique and Puyol back. We are still insanely talented but aside from form etc we need that swagger back too. The bit of arrogance that every ruthlessly winning team has which is like a complete confidence that they will inevitably find a way to win which drains the heck out of opposition seeing it. Somehow with Pique’s big grin and Beckenbauer runs we seem to have a lot more swagger which intimidates people coming up against us. And I don’t even need to talk about Puyol scaring the daylights out of the opposition.

  5. Well this hasn’t been the most pleasant night I’ve spent in a long time. Our worst performance of the season by a mile.

  6. Agree with Jim, one of our worst games in a long time. Granada were very spirited and stubborn, but they are still a team that has only scored two goals all season and are 18th in the table and were playing with ten men.

    Thank God we got the crucial three points, so ultimately how terrible a performance this was means nothing.

    1. They showed videos of the various pasillos including that pasillo during half-time so I’m gonna have to disagree. I’m not even upset at all. We got three points. Eh.

  7. Re-reading the original post is kinda funny now. The title and first few paragraphs are funny in hindsight though at the time I thought more like ‘well of course we are gonna smack down’.

  8. Is it just me or is Alves having a bit of the funk lately. This probably came from the team looking so tired but his side isn’t as dominant as it used to be.

  9. I can’t even count the number of

    1. First touches were heavy
    2. Passes that were wayward
    3. Times Messi lost the ball (runs/passes)
    4. Players that are tired
    5. Offsides called against Granada that weren’t
    6. Players carded by ‘Jellyhead’
    7. Times when VV was called to action
    8. Times we looked like we’d score only to be let down by poor finishing

    This isn’t good. We don’t usually lose our focus in October. But we haven’t scored from open play in a while. Thankfully VV keeping the ball out of hs net for so long has saved us from a string of poor results. But against quality attacks, *shudders*

    Hopefully, someone will slap our team back into action. In Pep We Trust. Visca!

  10. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story/_/id/928546/norman-hubbard:-age-is-more-than-a-figure-for-footballers?cc=4716

    The article talks about football players peaking at different age, using Michael Owen as an example of one who peaks early.

    Now we’ve been saying that Messi (who is 24) hasn’t reached his ‘peak’ yet, which normally would be about late 20s to early 30s. I’m really worried that if he keeps playing every game full-time he will burn out much faster than that.

    I’m not comparing Messi to Owen. On the contrary, I don’t want him to be like Owen. I think Pep must be brave enough to bench him once in a while to get him rest. I know Messi can switch to gear one mode in any game to conserve energy but that is still different than having a proper rest IMO.

    About the match, one of the worst matches of the season, if not the worst. All the players, especially the offensive ones look really tired. Let’s hope we can keep winning. Visca Barca!

  11. wow! holy cr@p… speechless for the moment. That was the Granada match, right?? Need another watch.

  12. So looking back at the title of this preview I just have to laugh. No doubt people may start screaming mini-crisis. Didnt catch the entire game but saw the last 20 mins and we were woeful, to say the least. Yeah, yeah credit to Granada and such but if this were an onform Barca we would have created more chances and maybe finished this in the first half at least. Messi looks dead. It REALLY showed in the little I saw of this match.

    I know, I know we got the three points but the performance seemed one of the worst we’ve had in a LONG while.

    Will people stop predictiing that we’ll beat up on the next team after everytime we drop points?! Its not set in stone and its not to be expected that we’ll just punish the next team we face, after evey dropped points or bad performance. If the team is going having a rough patch we should stay behind them and cheer them until they regain form not pressure them to try to score a manita on the next team, no matter whom it may be.

  13. I thought this game was tomorrow. Whoops. (Not that I could have Liveblogged, but I would have asked someone to do it).

    From the looks of it, it doesn’t sound like a classic, does it? I’ll catch the replay later, but methinks that there are more problems than the tired!Messi one.

    Sad about Pedro because injuries are never pleasant — Club’s official Twitter says he’s out for 10-15 days — but he’s really been stinking up the place. The last injury he got is what made him regress from Pedro!! to just Pedro borderline Pedrito. Hopefully after this one, it’ll have the reverse effect.

    Good thing Alexis is almost back.

    1. For sure, this was a game where you accept the 3 points and move quickly to thinking about the next game.

  14. Should we be worried when:
    – we’re playing Granada
    – they’re down to 10 men, and
    – the only goal that Barca gets is not from open play?

    Hell yeah.

    There’s something going on here that doesn’t stack up. The whole team is so static that it looks as if they’ve been planted in the pitch.

    – Messi simply can’t string a pass together
    – Dani is simply off
    – Pedro should never have had his teeth fixed because he’s been bad ever since
    – Villa is playing 2 seconds ahead of the rest of the team because the others are too slow to release the ball to him
    – Cuenca plays instead of Thiago?
    – the only ones playing their normal game are the backline guys and VV
    – no passing triangles to be seen

    Something smells.

    1. Completely agree and equally perplexed. Barca looked like an average team in the league. If they took off their blaugrana jerseys and played in a let’s say Burger King sponsored jersey – it would take me a long while to realize they weren’t Getafe today.
      The missed place passes, the slow build up, the walking around the field, no tiki-taka, miscommunication … it’s as if the team has completely lost their mojo. Everything that made them spectacular to watch is no longer. Where are Messi’s amazing runs taking on 5 defenders? Where did Cesc’s passion and telepathic interplay with Messi disappear to? What happened to Pedro? Why is Pep messing with the line up? All questions, no answers.

    2. ^ This
      I agree something is not right. I simply don’t get the level of tweaking. Really odd. I have been having the same “something rotten in Denmark” (or Barcelona) kind of reaction to what’s going on… I don’t buy that the opponents have us so figured out. I can’t put a finger on it, but something doesn’t sit right.

    3. Just watched the second half not the first.

      The players looked very tired, especially Messi. They all looked to be playing with just adrenaline and no energy.
      There was very little off the ball movement which characterizes Barcelona play.
      I think Pep should have a talk with the physio’s to figure out something such that the players are not so tired.
      With the number of matches they are playing the players look very tired.

      Cuenca was playing to give width on the left. Who else does Pep have to give width on the left?

  15. Well, i was at the match and it was not that great in person either and not that granada played any great.

    Granada again defended well in two banks of 4. We again seemed to find it very difficult to find a way through them.

    About Messi, he played very well in first half, hardly remember him losing any balls but he was visibly tired after around 70 minutes. I called out on Kevin on his bias last time so will also praise him for other stuff he wrote about Messi and tiredness. On other hand, he created maximum danger for us. No one else was even near him in terms of creating.

    Our entire team looked kind of off. It did not help that Granada were pretty disciplined in their play.

    Overall not worth the entry money (which was thrice the normal price:() but wth, it was nice stadium to watch match in, though cold!

  16. Messi was a ghost today. Not just any ghost. He was the ghost of Bojan at his worst Barça period. I could swear he didn’t make 1 good pass or run in the entire 2nd half. Everything he tried he failed at. He needs to get rested asap but on the other hand we don’t have anyone upfront now except for Villa.. Hmmmm

  17. Currently watching Sevilla v Racing. With 14 mins to go, Racing is leading 1-2.

    I have not seen a Sevilla 10 man defence in this game at all.

  18. Heh,Sevilla raised their game to get that point now they’re losing to racing at home. Sevilla 1 from 6 points, Barca 4 from 6 8)

    1. Correction Jordi: Sevilla 2 from 6 hahahahha

      They are one LUCKY team this week. I really wanted Racing to hold on 🙁

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