(Jordi Blanco, correspondent in Barcelona) – Barcelona left a catastrophic draw in Vitoria, not being able to overcome Alavés despite an excellent second half but paying an expensive toll after 45 terrible first minutes. The 1-1 final means the fourth consecutive day without knowing the victory in the League, something that had not happened since October 2018. Adding two points out of twelve seems to be terribly serious.
Barça may start to miss the League before reaching the month of November, an unknown scenario at the Camp Nou …
As if it were doctor Jeckyll and mister Hyde, Barça abandoned the angry and bossy image they offered in their presentation in Turin and appeared in Mendizorroza lazy, slow and barely with Ansu’s electricity as an offensive argument. At his side Dembélé only beat the defense once, Griezmann collected errors and Messi got tired of losing balls. As if that were not enough, Busquets was overcome by rival energy and De Jong was not enough, so interpreting a collective game with pretensions was a chimera.
For Alavés it was enough with order and defensive organization to survive calmly … And find a goal that came out of nowhere, chance and the impossible. A misplaced transfer from Piqué to Neto and the mess the goalkeeper made with the ball between his feet gave Luis Rioja the opportunity to steal and score at will. After half an hour of the game, the prize for Pachín’s was maximum and the punishment for Koeman’s … logical.
And that there was a controversial play, which can never be absent in Barça games and which infuriates Koeman so much. A push from Ximo Navarro to De Jong in the air, inside the area, could be marked with a penalty or, at least, worthy of being reviewed by the VAR. And it wasn’t. Another reason to get depressed.
And that the Barça team did not give a right, dressed for the second consecutive game in pink but absolutely unknown regarding the one that beat Juventus in Turin. Messi tried one, two and ten times with no luck and the nerves multiplied until he reached a break with a taste in return.
There was. Total and absolute. Koeman revolutionized the eleven delaying De Jong by Lenglet (replaced by Pedri) to position himself as central theoretician alongside Piqué, entering Pjanic by Busquets and Trincao by Dembélé. The image changed, completely, and it was Pedri, the youngest of all, who became Ansu’s partner to wake up Barça.
His dominance went from parsimonious to fierce and speed multiplied, with pressure on Alavés that drowned him more and more. Thus, from Ansu’s continued loss of a rebound, the ball arrived at Griezmann at the entrance of the area, solving the play with an excellent touch over Pacheco to tie it shortly after game time.
The last third was ahead and the comeback was expected. It was expected with logic considering the dominance of Barça, the expulsion by two yellows of Jota Peleteiro and the chances that multiplied before a multiplied and gigantic Pacheco in his interventions.
It was like this, with one opportunity after another, the game falling asleep, with no luck for a Barça that tried in all ways, with Piqué turned into a center forward, adding players in the area for nothing … And leaving a draw that could be very dangerous in the league.
There’s a long way to go … But it’s been four days without winning. Two points out of twelve. The impossible.