BARCELONA (Jordi Blanco, correspondent) – Granada, who had never started even a simple draw in their visits to Barcelona and counted their 26 previous games at the Barça stadium as defeats, gave a beastly blow to the League, winning 1- 2 and turning Barça’s long-awaited party day into a funeral.
Suddenly the lights went out and that solvent, relaunched and euphoric team came face to face with an unexpected reality. Messi scored and it seemed all solved … But orphan of a real 9, no more goals came when they were needed and Granada, orderly, humble and fierce, conquered a comeback as unthinkable as it was bestial.
Barcelona no longer depends on himself to be champion because he is, even on points, behind Real Madrid and attending to a euphoric end of the season as he thought, speaking of that duel against Atlético de Madrid, he fell badly.
Nothing went as expected. Absolutely nothing in a tragic afternoon in Barça key …
Ronald Koeman shook the line-up, giving Dest, Lenglet and Pedri a rest to place Sergi Roberto, Umtiti and Ilaix Moriba in their places, maintaining the scheme of the last matches (it is understood that they were changes man by man) and having an eminently team offensive, in need of winning and determined, it was understood, to seek victory on the fast track to avoid scares …
But nothing went as expected or trusted. The Barça team entered the game with determination, overpowering an organized rival and harassing Aaron Escandell’s goal. Quick combinations, good positioning of the players and position in the game gave to understand that the tradition would be fulfilled: the 26 previous visits of Granada to the Barcelona stadium had always ended with a local victory.
And after a couple of warnings, with an excellent performance by Busquets as an anchor and by Ilaix as a hitch behind Messi and Griezmann, a magnificent assist from the Frenchman ended with the captain’s cross shot to the net, which he put in front to Barça and gave the feeling of beginning to sentence a new victory.
Barça was already a leader, it was solvent, it was agile in its game and it was heading to a new triumph, transcendental in the race for the League … But it was not enough to lead
that triumph to a resolution. It was again difficult for him to find the rival goal and the absolute dominance with which he ended the first half did not translate into that reassuring goal.
The wall and defensive order of Granada began to be a headache for Koeman’s. And his good disposition would end up causing the fright. Monumental.
In an unthinkable way everything changed after the break. Griezmann brushed 2-0 with a shot that was too crossed but Granada began to believe in the draw, stretching and taking advantage of the huge deficit that Barça has in attack, where it continues to be orphaned by a decisive 9 that ended up taking its toll.
A long shot by Luis Suárez that Mingueza failed to reject in a defensive run ended the ball in the hands of Machís and his cross shot, winning in the race against Sergi Roberto, caused the tie shortly after game time. The despair …
And in full stress, without knowing how to break a grown rival came the second blow. A center of Adrián Marín that neither Piqué arrived nor Umtiti attended left Jorge Molina completely alone so that his head would surprise Ter Stegen again. 1-2. Never imagined …
Without Koeman on the bench (expelled) and desperate, without plan or order, Barcelona, morally touched, sought in any way to minimize the damage with, at least, a draw that would allow him to continue depending on himself in the League
It did not succeed. There was no way because there was no plan or order or concert. Granada finished twice on goal and scored two goals. To Barça it did not serve neither to relocate Piqué as a center forward, nor to give entry to Dembélé and Trincao, nor to trust in the magic of Messi. Nothing at all.
And the evening of the party ended up becoming the night of the funeral.