analysis | 2015-12-13
Match Report: Barcelona 2:2 Deportivo - Lost in translation
A frustrating match against a brave Deportivo leaves Barcelona with their second consecutive La Liga draw
As Bill Murray in the movie “Lost in translation”, Barça could not focus well from Japan. Because despite Luis Enrique’s warning, the team was already there. Víctor Sánchez del Amo’s bold approach wasn’t on any script but his since he complicated heavily the Blaugrana squad digestion with a 4-3-1-2. They flustered it based on hindering the centre-backs’ build-up plays with the two strikers pressuring high on the pitch and with a Faiçal Fajr unsettling Sergio Busquets anytime he could, knowing he’s one of the most influential players in this Barça, right after the trident.
All this, alongside the two lines formed by seven players who closed the spaces and aided among them in the defensive coverages, caused an initial collapse in the game plan Barcelona is used to perform. Deportivo sacrificed something in exchange, though: they allow the fullbacks incorporations with easiness since both Dani Alves and Jordi Alba attacked constantly. If we had a heat map for the first half, Iniesta and Messi would have shown their charts in hot red. The ball always passed by their feet. The former, by sending the most dangerous passes over the defenders backs and the latter by looking to connect one of those alley-oops with Suárez or Sandro.
But little by little, the Galician squad frightened the local audience when they managed to stretch their lines thanks to a Lucas Pérez who caused hassles every time he dominated the ball. Later in the first half, the Blaugranas started to try different approaches, being conscious that they weren’t attacking in a fluid manner. Sandro changed his flank, Suárez placed himself in the left band and the culés possession in the opposite area was constant, yet not effective. The more they attacked, the less confident they felt in what they were doing.
Meanwhile, Deportivo maintained their faith in their plan. After a first-half of tactical perfection, Barça only managed to lead the scoreboard with a free kick. Messi tried it twice from nearly the same spot. The first kick was a bit slower than usual and it was blocked by Germán de Lux. But for the Argentinian second shot, there wasn’t much time to save it. When the second half started, the nervousness returned to the Camp Nou. It was a match marked by episodes. With a more accurate Jonathan Rodríguez, Deportivo would have tied the match earlier, but he didn’t score and the plan demanded more physical effort. Once those first few minutes passed, Barcelona found their sweetest moments of the match. With a more open Deportivo, Iniesta found more spaces and Rakitic took advantage of the meters ahead of him and put in the back of the net one of his trademarked long distance shots.
Before that, Luis Suárez had scored with an assist from Alba, but the line referee ruled him in an offside position and annulled the goal. With the 2-0 another of the key moments of the clash arose. Barça felt like winners, and Luis Enrique, despite his own warnings, confirmed the feeling with the substitutions: Munir for Sandro, Sergi Roberto for Rakitic and Mathieu for Jordi Alba.
With the Frenchman on the pitch, the afternoon got trickier. Deportivo hadn’t maintained the possession in the culés half as much as after the 2-0. Benefiting from an episode of disorder, a dull Mathieu and a stunned Mascherano, Lucas Pérez beat Claudio Bravo. He had a scoring chance previously, but his goal after a rejection off the crossbar was invalidated. They didn’t stop believing and the match was at their grasp. From there up to their second goal, all there was the Blaugrana's absurdity.
Messi and Suárez fought the battle of their own while the rest of the team sank in one of those lethargies that are only broken by a rival goal. This time was Bergantiños who rounded up his great match in the Catalan pitch. The chaos from the 75th minute knocked back two points which are much alike the ones lost in Mestalla the previous week.
With a feeling, though, of not being as dominant as the clash against Valencia and to have relaxed a bit more of what’s permissive in such a tough competition as La Liga. Luckily for Barcelona, they now get to disconnect in Japan, they’ll try to conquer the world and return with a different dynamic, with Arda Turán and Aleix Vidal on the squad, and perhaps someone else.
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Article translated from Spanish to English, originally published at the Perarnau Magazine by Diego Basadre.
TRANSLATED BY: Jaime Ibarra
Jaime is a chemical engineer from Venezuela who is passionate about football and Barça. He loves the club’s history and he has been an unconditional fan since Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” amazed the world with the Blaugrana colors.