|Disappointment at the Balaídos|
Despite a second half filled with lots of energy from the Cataláns, Barça couldn’t get a point at the Balaídos as they were handed their second loss of the season by Celta Vigo who beat them 4-3.
It was a fascinating game that saw Barça go 3-0 down with just 35 minutes played with all three conceded goals courtesy of one mistake or the other. Barça showed they were indeed Barça in the second half as they fought very hard and were too strong for the hosts, pulling two goals back. The dominated afterwards with a lot of momentum and almost got the equalizer, it was just a matter of time before it came but then Ter Stegen made a howler from no where, killing off the game against Barça as he made it 4-2. Barça still kept fighting and they scored one again and got close to getting the equalizer but it was a case of too little too late for Barcelona.
Real Madrid played out a surprising 1-1 draw against Eibar at the Santiago Bernabéu which gave Barça the chance to go one point clear at the top of the table with a win, however, they didn’t utilize the chance and are now 4th on the table after the loss.
Luis Enrique was expected to start a strong XI knowing Balaídos will be a tough ground but he made some rotations, benching Ivan Rakitic and Andrés Iniesta for Arda Turan and André Gomes while also starting Jeremy Mathieu ahead of Javier Mascherano in central defence. Rafinha Alcántara started on the wing for the injured Messi alongside Suarez and Neymar.
Barça started the game well, on great pace and Suarez had a shot saved by Sergio Álvarez and it all looked like it will be a good night until they lost concentration and power changed hands. Ter Stegen made a bad pass to Busquets who couldn’t control well and he allowed Celta steal the ball for a quick counter attack that allowed Iago Aspas set up Sisto to fire past the goalkeeper and give the hosts the lead after 21 minutes.
It was 2-0 ten minutes later after Barça’s defence failed to deal well with a long ball clearance by Hugo Mallo which met Iago Aspas on the right, Pique could do little to stop him as he fired a low drive towards the far post to beat Ter Stegen.
More woes for the Champions as it became 3-0 two minutes later. A perfect pass from Daniel Wass to find Aspas in the box was terribly cleared by Jeremy Mathieu who couldn’t do anything but slot the ball into his own net, killing Barça’s hopes of pulling a comeback.
Barça needed fluid in attack and Luis Enrique introduced Andrés Iniesta at halftime for Rafinha and the game changed afterwards. Iniesta who was playing his 600th game found Gerard Pique with a delightful cross from the right for the defender to power in a strong header and pull one back for the visitors.
It was like something magical was going to happen after Andre Gomes won a penalty for Barça five minutes later which Neymar coolly slotted past Sergio Álvarez, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way, 3-2 and game on after 64 minutes.
Denis Suarez was brought on to replace the out-of-form Sergio Busquets as Barça powered forward in great momentum in search for the equalizer but all their hopes crumbled after Ter Stegen made a howler of a pass. The German goalkeeper who made some good saves earlier on wanted to make a chipped pass to the left despite two players being free on the right and unfortunately his pass hit Pablo Hernández on the face and the ball crawled into the net in embarrassing fashion, 4-2 with 13 minutes left.
Barça didn’t relent whatsoever and Luis Enrique introduced Paco Alcácer for Jordi Alba with ten minutes left to play. Pique once again rose to the occasion and made it 4-3 for Barça, heading in a great cross from Denis Suarez. Barça kept on pressing and Piqué once again came close to bagging his hat-trick and getting Barça’s equalizer but his header went inches wide after Neymar came very close with a header that sailed just wide.
Barça missed a lot of chances and they lost as a result of so many errors and a lack of precision by the attackers, perhaps they missed Lionel Messi. They are now fourth on the log behind Sevilla, Real Madrid and leaders Atlético Madrid. Their next game will be at home against Deportivo La Coruña after the international break.