|Messi and Neymar vs Alaves – Image: FCB|
FC Barcelona fell 2-1 at the Camp Nou to newly-promoted team Deportivo Alaves on Saturday night in a disappointing game for everyone related to the Catalan club.
Deyverson opened the scoring for the visitors in the first half but defender Jeremy Mathieu equalized for Barcelona early in the second. The Frenchman could have made it 2-1 moments later but didn’t and Ibai Gomez struck on 64 minutes to win it for Alaves. Here are five lessons from the game.
BARÇA 1-2 ALAVES: FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT
1. MATHIEU-MASCHERANO PARTNERSHIP IS A NO
Gerard Pique is the main man in Barça’s defence and everything seems to go wrong whenever he’s absent. Luis Enrique decided to play Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu in central defence and as expected – it turned out to be a disaster. Both goals Barça conceded were from terrible defensive plays, both defenders were nowhere to be found for the first goal with Deyverson beating Mascherano easily while the second goal was from a terrible Mascherano mistake.
It’s good we’ve learned this, but it doesn’t seem like Luis Enrique has learned too. Mascherano and Umtiti would’ve been a better partnership, or Mathieu Pique, we shouldn’t see this partnership any more often in the future to avoid problems.
2. THERE IS HOPE IN JASPER CILLESSEN
Most Barça fans haven’t seen him play in the past and were unsure of how he’ll adapt to the system. The Dutch goalie did well in his debut, making good saves and he looked comfortable on the ball. He also did some sweeper-keeping although he still looked raw, he will improve with time. Was unlucky to concede twice, none was his fault whatsoever.
3. ALEIX VIDAL NEEDS TO STEP UP
Luis Enrique stated that he has trust in his two right backs for the season, he preferred to start Aleix Vidal over Sergi Roberto for the game and the player didn’t do well. It is safe to say Sergi Roberto is the first choice for that position, this means Aleix Vidal would need to do more to provide competition but that hasn’t been the case so far.
Vidal missed two chances where he could’ve done better and also looked confused in the final third not knowing what to do with the ball and also could’ve done better to prevent Alaves’ second. He is a good player but really needs to offer more or Sergi Roberto will be the starter in every game.
4. ROTATIONS SHOULD BE DONE MODERATELY
In Barça’s lineup vs Alaves, only four players were starters and it were: the declining Mascherano, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and the tired Neymar. One thing Barça lacked in the game was ‘creativity’, Neymar, Aleix Vidal and Denis Suarez were the once who should provide this the most but it wasn’t the case. Denis Suarez and Aleix Vidal were off while Neymar tried his best but didn’t get the link up he would’ve gotten with Messi and Suarez up front.
The fact is that Luis Enrique (everyone actually) underestimated Alaves. Like Denis Suarez said in the post match “we thought we’d be comfortable, we thought wrong.” These rotations should be done moderately especially in league games.
5. SERGIO BUSQUETS IS CRUCIAL TO BARÇA PLAYING WELL
One of the main reasons Barça didn’t play well vs Alaves was the rustiness of Sergio Busquets. The defensive midfielder didn’t get the support of his teammates in attack as it looked like Alcacer and Arda were locked so he kept on trying to do everything with Neymar.
He looked much more defensive than attacking because there were limited options to go for in attack with Aleix Vidal also not helping matters. Also, fatigue might have played a role.