Granada 2-0 Barcelona: Reigning champions’ alarming mediocrity continues in shock defeat

There were times last season when Lionel Messi’s magic was all that lifted Barcelona out of a state of alarming mediocrity. With him unable to start matches this season that mediocrity has – especially away from the Camp Nou – become almost the norm.

They were horribly ordinary against Granada who were brilliant and are now top of La Liga after five games. Barcelona in contrast have not started this badly since the 1994-95 season.

They have failed to win any of their last three away games and they have failed to score this season in half of their six games played.

Ramon Azeez had converted at the far post to hand Granada a shock lead against Barcelona

Ramon Azeez had converted at the far post to hand Granada a shock lead against Barcelona

Messi started on the bench and came on at half time with teenage sensation Ansu Fati but neither the sorcerer nor his apprentice could prevent the team with the third lowest wage bill in the division beating them 2-0.

‘It’s a defeat that worries us and hurts us. We have to be self critical and improve,’ said Luis Suarez after the loss.

Barcelona were behind in two minutes and it was a goal of their own making. First Clement Lenglet was overpowered in the air and when the flick-on dropped between the veteran Roberto Soldado and the novice Junior Firpo it was age before beauty with the former Tottenham man robbing the full-back.

MATCH FACTS

Granada: Silva, V. Diaz, Duarte, Sanchez, Neva, Herrera (Gonalons 83), Montoro, J. Diaz, Azeez, Machis (Vadillo 62), Soldado (Fernandez 58)

Unused substitutes: Gonalons, Gil, Koybasi, Escandell, Ramos 

Scorers: Azeez 2, Vadillo 66

Booked: Soldado, Herrera, Fernandez

Barcelona: ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo (Fati 45), Roberto, de Jong, Rakitic (Vidal 62), Perez (Messi 45), Griezmann, Suarez

Unused substitutes: Busquets, Todibo, Arthur, Neto

Booked: Suarez 

The ball broke to Antonio Puertas whose cross shot was deflected over Marc Andre ter Stegen and might have gone in even without the head of Ramon Azeez that made sure.

Granada had the best defensive record in the second division last season and are usually tough to break down. The last thing Barcelona wanted was to go behind so early, not that the home side sat back. Puertas tormented Junior again and Ter Stegen had to get down well to save.

Barcelona got no better as the half went on. A heavy touch from Antoine Griezmann sent the ball straight out of play. Frenkie De Jong then kicked the ball straight into touch trying to find the Frenchman who had made a run inside which De Jong had not seen until he had already played the pass. 

The opener on 65 seconds was the fastest Barcelona had conceded a league goal since 2011

The opener on 65 seconds was the fastest Barcelona had conceded a league goal since 2011

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has come under heavy criticism for his side's poor form

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has come under heavy criticism for his side’s poor form

The lack of connection between Griezmann and the rest of the team was evident throughout the first 45 minutes. Just before the break he set off on another run only for Junior to try to play the ball to where he had been standing, so losing possession.

It was bad enough at half time for Messi and Ansu Fati to go straight on to the pitch at the break to warm up. They replaced Carles Perez and Junior at the restart.

But Barcelona were almost another goal behind immediately when Ter Stegen spilled the ball and Soldado tried to turn it over the line. He made no contact with the ball kneeing the Barcelona keeper in the head as he tried. He was taken off shortly afterwards – the last thing Granada needed now was to go down to 10 men.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde made his third and final change replacing Ivan Rakitic with Arturo Vidal but it had the opposite of the desired effect. He handled a goal-bound shot in the area and left referee Guillermo Cuadra with little choice – once he had checked the pitch-side monitor – to point to the spot.

Summer signing Antoine Griezmann struggled to make an impact from his wide position

Summer signing Antoine Griezmann struggled to make an impact from his wide position

Lionel Messi was introduced as a second half substitute but couldn't muster the leveller

Lionel Messi was introduced as a second half substitute but couldn’t muster the leveller

Substitute Alvaro Vadillo sent Ter Stegen the wrong way to make it 2-0. Barcelona kept chugging forward but Granada took it all in their stride. 

The substitutes did their best to get Barcelona back into the game but half a game from Messi is currently not enough to save this Barcelona team.

They have taken just seven points in five games and are three points behind minnows, and leaders, Granada.

Granada instead doubled their lead through Alvaro Vadillo's unerring penalty on 66 minutes

Granada instead doubled their lead through Alvaro Vadillo’s unerring penalty on 66 minutes

The Spaniard blasted home the spot kick, sending Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way

The Spaniard blasted home the spot kick, sending Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way

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