Lionel Messi set yet another new record against Girona at the Camp Nou. This was his 423rd game in La Liga as a non-Spanish player previously Dani Alves held the record
Barcelona dropped points first time this season after an exciting 2-2 draw against Girona. Having to play with 10 men for a large part of the game also had to come from behind to rescue a point. They remain top of the table and unbeaten after five matches.
Ernesto Valverde made several changes, with the likes of Nelson Semedo, Arthur, Arturo Vidal, and Clement Lenglet all starting from the opening whistle.
Now the question is, does Valverde needed to start a whole new midfield and inexperience Barca’s way of playing midfield in a local derby? Many will tell that no it was not wise and one between Rakitić or Coutinho should have started the game. I will say no, Mr. Valverde took an excellent decision to start Arthur and Arturo Vidal. Yes, it will take time for both of them to learn and gel into Barca way and to understand how Messi or Suarez or Jodi Alba move but it was a right decision. And it was visible until the red card incident that Barca midfield was lacking creativity and frequently Arthur was at the wrong place in the midfield. Still, I am total with Ernesto Valverde to start Arthur and Arturo Vidal.
Girona started very defensively with a five men back line. With first chance coming at 12th minutes when Messi passed his way through the Girona ’s defense before looking to place a shot just inside the far post, but goalkeeper Bounou made a finger-tip save. The second chance came when Vidal gave a key pass inside the penalty area, to Messi. And Messi scored the first goal of the game. Just two minutes later Suarez was denied by Yassine with an excellent save. On a quick counter-attack Portu rounded Marc-Andre ter Stegen and fired on goal, but Gerard Pique clears the ball off the goal-line.
In 35th minute Lenglet received a direct red card after VAR review. Valverde decided to wait until halftime to reinforce the defense. Sergio Busquets shuffled back into defense temporarily, and Girona took full advantage of Barcelona’s makeshift backline. And in 45th minute Stuani scored a rebound goal because of Pique’s inferior defensive play.
Was Valverde right to wait till halftime? No. The same mistake was made last season in the game again Roma. When Roma scored its 2nd goals, and Barcelona was on the way out of the Champion’s league Valverde delayed the attacking substitute and being André Gomes. That was a dumb move, just like yesterday.
Samuel Umtiti replaced Ousmane Dembele after the halftime break. It was clear with this substation that Valverde wants to go with typical Barcelona TikiTaka style over doing some experiment with Dembele.
Christian Stuani struck twice to secure Girona a 2-2 draw
But Girona took just six minutes in the second half to take the lead. And again Pique’s defense was the reason. And it’s time to find a replacement for Pique. He is a good player and a good leader, but he can’t play a full game every week. Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt the 18-year-old defender will be a suitable replacement.
13 saved in total. Crazy!!
After the second goal by Girona, Rakitić and Philippe Coutinho replaced Arthur and Vidal. Even though Barcelona was controlling the ball, creating chances against goalkeeper Yassine was a different task altogether who had total 13 saved in total. Crazy!!
Barcelona was pressing high and after some lovely build up. Pique had his redemption when he headed a goal for the equalizer 2-2.
Even playing with 11 men, Barcelona were buzzing, and Girona was back to looking for their chances on the counter-attack. Girona pulled back very deep, and their numerical advantage came in handy as they were always able to cover everybody. Umtiti in the 80th minute won a header inside the area by Pique, but the header was blocked. Then, Jordi Alba got the chance but let down by his first touch. Then Coutinho tried his luck from 35-yards out, but yet again Yassine saved it.
Two games, Two red card for Barcelona defence!!
This match was focused on a referee that has time and time again proven he can do anything. Three yellow-card sequence just in 4 minutes in first half, two for Barcelona. In total 8 yellow cards and one red card. This is the second game in line when Barcelona’s defender is getting a red card, last game against PSV in UCL, Umtiti was red carded.