Barcelona 1 - 0 Granada: Match report
Luis Enrique will go away from this game satisfied with the crucial three points - there would have been no excuse for dropping points at home to LaLiga's current whipping boys - but disappointed not to have put away more of the chances created by his team. With an unsurprising 75% possession, given the circumstances, they were faced up against a hard-working Granada defence, one that look to limit time and space for the MSN and their supporting cast. The intricacies associated with the front three did cause problems, as their movement behind the line - when that was possible - encouraged floated balls over the top into their paths. Neymar was the main threat in this capacity. But the dogged defending meant that others, Rafinha, Rakatic and the impressive Sergio, to name three, were needed to help stretch the play in the final third.
Stick to the plan...and hope
Granada came with a clear game-plan. Smother attacking moves as much as possible and hit the high playing line of the hosts. And with some better decision making when these chances came along this could have borne more fruit. Instead they were either too eager to push on and got caught offside (although some were very tight calls) or the dangerous available pass was delayed or not chosen. The video will be out on Monday to talk these through.
Acrobatic goal from Mr Accuracy
The single goal when it did come along was tasty, or at least the finish was. As the ball was played across the penalty area from Messi's run on the right, it seemed for a second as though the chance may not be taken. It rolled in front of Suárez (who possibly intentionally left it) and was collected by Rafinha and quickly shifted on to the widest of them all, Neymar. He did get a shot away which hit the inside of the post then was cleared off the line but looped up in the air. Rafinha shaped and threw himself into an almost overhead kick, connected well and put it out of reach of any potential block.
Luis Suárez was presented with the Golden Shoe ahead of kick-off but with this being Rafinha's fifth Barça goal from six attempts maybe the Catalan side will look for more chances to fall his way.
Min 90+3 | Peep peep peeeeeeeeep! It's all over and Barça have all three points. Thank you for joining us tonight and we'll have the match report up in a jiffy. Until the next time...
Min 90+2 | Granada get the ball into the area but it's easily scopped up by Ter Stegen. Think that's their last chance. If you can even call it that.
Min 90+1 | We're into three additional minutes and I can count one, two, three, four Granada players in the Barça half looking to press. They can't and the home side almost fashion an opportunity.
Min 88 | Granada have a chance to swing a deep free-kick into the Barça box but it is well cleared after an uncertain bounce. Messi is then released in on goal by Alcácer but as Ochoa came out big the delicate chip required was, well, undelicately hoofed. Unlike the little man.
Min 85 | The visitors have shown little signs of grabbing an equaliser in the last half hour but we've all seen these types of games before. There'll be a few nervous twitches from the fans. Neymar sees yellow as he gets up close and personal with Vezo. Alcácer removes the handbags!
Min 84 | How many Granada players in the box does it take to block out a Barcelona attack? Currently about 8!
Min 82 1 Great chance! Suárez all alone around the penalty spot is found perfectly by Mascherano but heads straight at the relieved Ochoa. Sub: Suárez makes way for Alcácer
Min 81 | It's all Barça. Pass, move, pass, look. Waiting for an opening or mistake.
Min 78 | Wonderfully balanced run from Neymar who picks the ball up wide at the half-way mark. Glides past three or four Granada players as he drifted towards the centre just outside the box, where he was unceremoniously stopped. Free-kick in dangerous position. Nothing comes of it.
Min 76 | Sub: knock carrying Toral off for Samper. Can Granada create anything in the final 15 or so minutes?
Min 75 | There he is again. Suárez deep in the box on the left, thinks about going it alone then looks up and chips it beautifully to Gomez in the centre but the chance evades him.
Min 72 | Two fouls in quick succession with Toral going into the book for clattering Neymar. Maybe that HT team talk was "we can't leave empty handed, take a limb if necessary". Slightly harsh.
Min 70 | Subs: Barça now happy to just keep ball as Denis Surez is replaced to loud applause from the stands. On trots André Gomez. Granada follow suit with Barral on for Kravets.
Min 66 | Chance for Granada as Boga gets away down the left but, as has been the story tonight for the vistors' breaks, poor decision-making. Holds on too long rather than rolling it into the path of the supporting players. Clearly these things are rather easier from my vantage point.
Min 64 | Suárez again is fed into the danger area close to the right by-line but can wriggle past Saunier...looking a little frustrated.
Min 62 | Great save! Sergio stretches his legs down the right again and puts in an inch-perfect pass for all-alone Neymar who controls and fires it toward goal from inside the area. Ochoa possibly happy he went for power not placement and deflects it over.
Min 60 | Foul by the chasing Carcel a bit unorthodox but knocks the wind or something out of Umtiti. Free kick in the Barça defensive third.
Min 58 | Nothing of note really in the last few minutes but Granada getting stuck in and giving away some unnecessary fouls. The wall of white and red is trying to keep close to their opposite numbers but the passing ability and movement is tough to handle.
Min 52 | Floodgates expected. Let's see what Alcaraz's "if we go a goal down" chat was...
Min 51 | Almost another as Suárez shoots against the suffocating defender rather than laying off to the passing Messi who would've been in.
After it looked like Barça had missed a glorious chance, or two right in front of goal where Neymar's close effort was cleared on the line, the ball broke up in the air and Rafinha swivled his body enough to take it on the volley. Half overhead anyway. Very nicely finished.
Min 49 | Gooooooooooaaalll!!! Rafinha with an overhead effort in front of the goal.
Min 48 | Another chance for Granada to break. Again offside for the runner.
Min 47 | Slow, calm, tidy. The pattern continues.
We're underway...Barça start us off. No changes to the XIs.
Here we go. Players are out on the field and Luis Enrique will have made it clear to his troops the importance of getting that elusive first goal. If they can, expect those floodgates to open. Alcarez knows that discipline and a LOT of running could give them a valuable point. It won't be enough to raise them off the bottom of the table though.
Barcelona - Granada: first half review
Although no goals it's been far from a dull game but there's not a lot to say that wasn't expected ahead of the encounter - lack of goals accepted. Barça have dominated ball and territory and pushed all players forward to press and win back possession while Granada have been compact and deep, aiming to keep the spaces closed. But the home side have made chances but not taken them - not that any were clear cut. The best chance fell to Suárez who has been running in on goal with just the keeper to beat hundreds of times before. Why he cut back, only he knows. He was certainly capable of finishing the opportunity from where he was.
Min 45 | Peep. Half-time. I was wrong with my goal expectation and the Barça players go into the dressing room somewhat frustrated. Second half 15 minutes away
Min 43 | Some neat play from the visitors who hold onto the ball for about a minute without really getting anywhere and eventually winning a free kick around 40 yards out. It's passed five yards to the right and struck hard towards goal...but hits the pressurising player. Poor choice.
Min 41 | Corner to Barça. (After a mini Uche strop for his teammates lack of supporting the break). Nothing comes as Messi inside the box is faced up by two and stumbles over his tricks.
Min 39 | Suárez gets the ball on the right almost level with the area and fires it in low onto the toe of the incoming Neymar on the penalty spot. Or it would have done that had the covering defender not been between them.
Min 37 | But as I said before. Granada are seeing huge grassy areas ahead of them and have willing runners. It's just about taking the chances - the splitting passes/timed runs being key.
Min 35 | Granada try to play it out into and through their midfield but are robbed and Mr Golden Shoe creates space to release a stinger which Ochao gets down to well and pushes away. Barça seem to have opened up to the idea of distance pings to bypass the visiting bus.
Min 34 | Lots of passing without any danger then Rafinha lets fly from distance. Well wide.
Min 30 | Another useful Granada break called back for offside followed by a direct Messi free-kick into the wall. I think we'll see a goal before the half-time peep. Corner for Barça. Poor. Cleared.
Min 29 | Great chance for Suárez. He breaks into the area ahead of the defence and breathing down on Ochoa but rather than take the shot decides to give himself more time, and a better angle. The back-trackers snuff him out.
Min 27 | Corner to Barça. Slight outswinger from the right keeping it away from Ochoa and the salmon-like Umtiti makes good contact with his head but it an easy enough save.
Min 25 | For all the dominance, we see another break for Granada as Periera sprints down the left into open grass. Kravets had kept up and awaited a chance to be created in the area he took up in the centre but a daisy-cutting cross was easily mopped up by the home defence.
Min 24 | Rafinha brings it forward dangerously and feeds it into Neymar inside the area. But the Brazilian can't get a hold of it as it runs out of play.
Min 23 | Headed chance for Rakatic. Short corner on the left, played to Messi at the corner of the area who curls it into the centre. Not enough purchase from the Croatian.
Min 21 | Another lifted ball (I'll think of more synonyms for that later!) into the box and Neymar, running across from the left, closely marked by Cuenca, tries a first time volley but doesn't connect.
Min 19 | Sergio Roberto impressing. His run down the right creates an opening, pass into Messi central who tries some neat interplay with surging teammates but it comes to nothing.
Min 16 | Granada effectively playing with a line of six at the back, but throw support forward for counters. How long can you do that against Barça?
Min 14 | The pattern of the game is as expected so far as Barça create another two chances in quick succession. The visitors are trying to minimise the space but are being forced deeper and deeper.
Min 12 | Mascherano repeats that Messi pass from before releasing Neymar who was sneaking past his marker on the left edge of the area. Flagged offside...need to see it again!
Min 10 | Gabriel into the book. Both he and Sergio came flying (literally) into each other and it could have been more painful than thankfully it was. Free kick Barça. Nothing comes.
Min 8 | Once again the visitors break down the right central flank. We don't get to see how it would have evolved as the flag goes up for offside in the forward pass. Replay suggests it was marginal at best.
Min 7 | Neymar gets to the byline inside the box and pulls it back into a crowded area. Messi does get a strike away but it's deflected to safety.
Min 5 | Granada break and get another shot away. More power this time but straight into the welcoming arms of Ter Stegen.
Min 4 | Half-chance. Messi in the middle of the park lifts a lovely pass into Neymar's path running into the box but just couldn't bring it under control. A tough ask but a man of his calibre...
Min 2 | From that last move the home side do what we know they're going to do all night. Move, draw players around, short passes, find a gap. And they almost fashion a chance but the offside flag goes up.
Min 1 | Immediately Granada win a throw deep in the Barça half and managed to work a shot from a tight angle. Ter Stegen never troubled.
Min 0 | Peeeep! We're off...
20:44 | Luis Suárez being presented with the Golden Shoe which his two young children take away from the pitch. One fan holds up a sign "give me your shirt Luis!"
20:40 | The teams are trotting out of the tunnel, friends leaning over and greeting each other over the central railing. Messi looks very serious as he sups on his bottle. KO almost here...
Barcelona - Granada: starting line-ups
Barça XI: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Umtiti, Digne, Denis Suarez, Rakitic, Rafinha, Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Barcelona - Granada: latest news
20:21 | Hands up if you want to see this type of action from Luis Suárez tonight?
19:57 | In the pre-match presser, Luis Enrique talked about the Barça values which include not kicking lumps out of each other. Have a read for yourself.
19:26 | Bad news for fans of Barcelona opponents - although no real surprise - as Suárez confirms he is to sign an extension.
18:45 | Fancy making some serious cash? You can get around 40 times your investment if you put it on the visitors. Oh, there's also a chance you can lose it all!
18:13 | Real Madrid have just completed their 10th LaLiga match and came through convincingly (by the scoreline at least) against Álaves. Our match report awaits your reading pleasure.
17:45 | Elsewhere, in today's General Assembly, Barça club members voted in favour of prolonging the sponsorship agreement with Qatar
16:00 | Visiting coach Lucas Alcaraz could well field three centre-backs - Rubén Vezo, Lombán and Saunier to combat Barça's feared 'MSN' frontline. However Alcaraz hinted in his pre-match press conference that his team will most likely "switch from one formation to another" during the game.
15:04 | Bottom club Granada come into this clash having arrested a four-game losing streak with a goalless draw at home to Sporting Gijón last weekend. "We'll keep fighting," said boss Lucas Alcaraz ahead of today's clash.
15:02 | The AS oracle has spoken. Find out what it saw in its crystal ball here.
15:00 | Here, in case you missed it yesterday, is Granada's squad.
14:38 | As is customary for Barça under Luis Enrique, their squad list has been announced on the day of the game. The full story on that is here.
13:50 | Are you scrabbling around in a state of frenzied desperation, unable to find out how, when and where to watch the game? Step one: take a deep breath. Step two: sit yourself down with a nice cuppa. Step three: read this.
Barcelona - Granada: possible starting XIs
Barça: Ter Stegen, Mascherano, Umtiti, S.Roberto, Digne, Rakitic, Busquets, D. Suarez, Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Granada: Ochoa, Vezo, Lomban, Saunier, Tito, Silva, Angban, Cuenca, Ponce, Uche & Pereira
Barcelona - Granada: match preview
Former Granada manager Joaquin Caparros famously said that an away trip to Camp Nou to face Barça is like "going to the dentist". You need to do it once a year and just want it out of the way. Tonight the Andalusian LaLiga basement side make their seasonal visit to the Catalan capital sideand all is not well for Lucas Alcaraz's Nazari outfit with Granada the only team in LaLiga yet to record a win in the 2016/17 campaign.
With difficult trips coming up against Manchester City (Champions League) and Sevilla in LaLiga next weekend, Luis Enrique will be looking to come through this evening's game against lowly Granada with no injuries and maximum points.
The past three meetings between both sides at Camp Nou has produced an overall scoreline of 14-0 for the home side and given the form book relating to both teams, there is nothing to suggest that tonight's final score won't take that figure closer to the 20-0 mark with LaLiga's highest scorers (29 goals in the campaign) facing the leakiest rear-guide in top flight Spanish football (23 goals concceded).
Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Mathieu and Andres Iniesta are high profile absentees for Luis Enrique this evening but reserve Dutch goalkeeper Cillessen is back (on the bench) having recovered from his recent injury.
You know times are tough at your club when a home point against another relegation candidate is celebrated with great gusto. This was the case at Los Carmenes last weekend as Alcaraz earned his first point (a drab 0-0 draw against Sporting Gijon) in his now third tenure at the Andalusian side.
Bueno and Marquez are significant players missing for Granada and Lucas Alcaraz stated in his pre-match press conference that what he wants his players to excude confidence at Camp Nou this evening.
The 50 year old coach will be hoping to prove the bookmakers wrong as they gave his side virtually no chance pf producing a major shock in Barcelona tonight with a win for the red and white hoops paying out at 40/1.