Barcelona will finish the weekend in third place in the La Liga table and 10 points behind the leaders thanks to a wild and very disappointing 3-3 draw against Granada at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on Sunday night. Barça played very poorly the entire night and made several mistakes with and without the ball, allowing the second-worst team in the league to earn a deserved point in Catalonia and effectively kill Barça’s title hopes.
Granada had an entire week to prepare this match and were clearly ready for the moment: the visitors came out with an excellent plan in and out of possession, and made Barça’s life hell for the entire 45 minutes with well-executed high-pressing and quick, incisive passing sequences that created dangerous attacks.
Barça had more of the ball but could not find a way to break through the Granada press, with several wasted long passes and a lot of mistakes in midfield that put the backline under pressure. The double pivot of Andreas Christensen and Frenkie de Jong barely saw any of the ball, and ball progression was a huge issue throughout the period.
But the Blaugrana still found a way to get in front in the 14th minute when a cross by João Cancelo found Lamine Yamal all alone at the far post for an easy volley and the opening goal. The Catalans then created absolutely nothing until almost a half-hour later when Yamal started a counter-attack that ended with a sure-fire goal by Robert Lewandowski only for Martin Hongla to deny it with a spectacular goal-line clearance.
Shortly after that came the equalizer that Granada’s play deserved as a cross from Facundo Pellistri found right-back Ricard Sánchez all alone inside the box for a very good finish to make the game all square.
At halftime Barça had been second-best in every department against the second-worst team in La Liga, and they were lucky to not be losing at the break. If the home team wanted all three points in the second half, they would need a lot more intensity and much better work in possession.
Granada started the second half by dropping deeper into a low block and looking to frustrate Barça in the final third with a well-organized defensive structure. The Catalans finally had more of the ball in the visitors’ half but struggled to find spaces, and there wasn’t a real chance in the early moments of the period.
Then as we hit the hour mark came a five-minute stretch of madness: Granada took the lead when Pau Cubarsí couldn’t properly clear a fairly simple cross inside the box and the ball fell to Myrto Uzuni, who gave Pellistri the easiest of tap-ins at the far post to put the away team in front; Barça then responded immediately after a great pass from Cancelo and an outrageous assist by Ilkay Gündogan to find Lewandowski for the equalizer, but Granada took the lead again just 90 seconds later when a cross by Faitout Maouassa found Ignasi Miquel and the captain headed it home off the post.
A wild sequence finally brought the game to life, and Barça had only 20 minutes plus stoppage time to find two late goals and rescue the victory. Xavi Hernández made a bold substitution with Raphinha replacing João Cancelo at left-back, and the Brazilian needed only five minutes to make an impact.
It was a cross by Raphinha that started the move that led to the equalizer, as Yamal won the ball off José Callejón at the edge of the box after the cross and fired a gorgeous strike from 25 yards to tie the game for a third time and give Barça a chance to win it with 10 minutes to go.
Xavi made one last roll of the dice at the death as Marc Guiu came on for Pedri looking for a winner in the final seconds, and Guiu missed a very good chance in stoppage time with a header inside the six-yard box that went over the bar.
That turned out to be the only chance Barça created in almost 9 minutes of added time, and the final whistle came to end a very disappointing and consequential night in the Blaugrana’s title chase.
Granada have now extended their unbeaten streak against Barça in La Liga to five games, and Xavi Hernández will leave the job in the summer having never beaten them. It’s a bad night in every way, with Lamine Yamal the only bright spot in an otherwise terrible and apathetic team performance.
Barça took the game for granted, didn’t work hard enough to win, and not even Marc-André ter Stegen can help this defense.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Cubarsí, Iñigo, Cancelo (Raphinha 75’); Christensen (Fermín 67’), De Jong; Yamal, Gündogan, Pedri (Guiu 89’); Lewandowski
Goals: Yamal (14’, 80’), Lewandowski (63’)
Granada: Batalla; Sánchez, Rubio, Hongla, Miquel, Maouassa; Pellistri (Jozwiak 84’), Ruiz, Gumbau (Torrent 90+5’), Melendo (Callejón 75’); Uzuni (Arezo 84’)
Goals: Sánchez (43’), Pellistri (60’), Miquel (65’)