It's late, so since we don't have it, a short post for you to give your thoughts on yesterday's game.
I thought we started brightly and looked especially threatening on the left, with Guedes and Gaya combining well, and I hoped this would be one game where we'd take it to them instead of letting them dictate things. It wasn't to be. The injury to Guedes changed the dynamic of the game. Cheryshev was alright, but we seemed to lose the initiative after GG7 went off. A perfect start, with Parejo, who had been involved well in the build-up, putting in a good corner and Garay scoring at the back post after 90 seconds. Messi scored a great goal to level it up after 20+ minutes. We had our counter-attacks, especially in the second period, but they lacked the finishing touch.
It was frustrating at times to watch Barca with their TikiTaka nonsense. Why do so many people say they love watching how Barcelona play? I watch it and see world class players, yes, but they're passing the ball around for 5 minutes, possession for possession's sake. It's boring and I'd rather watch Betis or other teams.
As ever, it's a fine line, I want to say that we gave them too much respect, same as last season, and sat back too much, but if we'd gone all out would we have got the point? It's always a gamble. So overall, I was satisfied with how we played. Marcelino had clearly done his homework and had drilled into the players what to expect and the result was that, like so many teams their attacks came up against a solid wall. If only we could play as well at the other end, we wouldn't have to worry about top 4.
There wasn't anyone in our team who played badly. Neto didn't have a lot to do, but was well positioned throughout and couldn't do anything for the goal. Garay man of the match, there was one great moment in particular where Messi was making one of his powerhouse runs and Garay anticipated perfectly and dispossessed him. Gaya and Gabriel continued at a high level. Those are our best 3 at the back. Piccini was relatively worse, but not so weak this game. I thought he had a decent game and handled Alba and co well.
Midfield was back to its best. Parejo pulling the strings with some great passes and layoffs and Kondogbia doing the midfield enforcer role. Soler tracked back well and Guedes looked back to his best. Could've been a different result if he'd stayed on. We are just not getting the lucky breaks this season.
Up front, Rodrigo was surprisingly dropped but I thought Gameiro-Bats did well. Gameiro worked hard and did some good layoffs but got caught in moments of indecisiveness which marred a good overall performance. Bats had a good game and if he plays this way the goals will come.
Satisfied overall, but top 4 is not won with home draws and our road ahead looks daunting. Sevilla, our main rivals for top 4 are top and 7 points ahead of us. It doesn't look good with close on a quarter of the season gone but the next 2 months bring an easier road and if we can build on the great performances in defence we have a chance.