Barça returned to school, as if he needed to learn how to play football, start playing the ball, regardless of the leadership of LaLiga. The course at the academy of Quique Setién, Cruyff’s faithful follower, different from Valverde. And the team improved collectively in his proposal until he got a ball and for a moment he was at the mercy of a shot at Eteki’s stick. Relieved later by a debatable expulsion from Germán, he found a remedy for the party in a virguería of Arturo Vidal that culminated Messi. Although the script changed, the outcome was the same as always at the Camp Nou. Matches are won with a goal from Messi.
Ter Stegen, Umtiti, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Alba, Busquets, Vidal (Arthur Melo, min. 82), Rakitic (Ricard Puig, min. 70), Ansu Fati (Carles Perez, min. 78), Messi and Griezmann.
Rui Silva, Víctor Díaz, Domingos Duarte, Germán, Foulquier, Azeez (Yangel Herrera, min. 55), Gonalons, Machís, Brice (Martínez, min. 71), Vadillo (Puertas, min. 64) and Carlos Fernández.
Valentín Pizarro Gómez
German (min. 58),
Machís (min. 11) and
Carlos Fernández (min. 71).
Judging by the line-up nobody would have said that Barca had changed coach, a strange sensation in the stadium. There was such a fever to see Setién’s debut that Barcelona had imagined thousands of different formations and drawings, as if he had already seen the team play with the new coach, nothing to do with Valverde. Setién’s room for maneuver for surprise was in any case limited if De Jong’s absences are taken into account, Luis Suarez and Dembélé. The most relevant news were, perhaps, the ownership of Umtiti and, above all, the continuity of Rakitic and Vidal.
The structural deficiencies are so serious that they are not solved only with short-term decisions such as shaking the bench: the spine has aged; the staff is short, well-off and bossy; and the board of directors, fragile and fickle, hurried in a pre-election year to the amazement of a fan who inevitably recovers the Cainite debate on the style when he perceives the years pass, passes the Champions League and Messi passes without the captain raise the cutest and most desired cup, Dodge from Berlin 2015. There is, however, an appreciable difference between Valverde and Setién.
The Txingurri always played in tow since the escape of Neymar. He did not stop hiding the evils of the team and the club, as if nothing happened, determined that Barça’s defects were not seen. He had a serious attitude and restraint against the optimism and uncompleted attitude of Quique Setién, obsessed against publicizing the virtues of Barça. It is not populism but the Cantabrian coach aspires to spread his enthusiasm to the players and especially Messi. He also proclaims himself an apostle of Cruyff. The position game, possession, pass as a game thread and ball speed seem to be back in Barcelona.
There is an obsession with going out with the ball played from the own area and football revolves around the means to generate situations of superiority from a very flexible tactical device, always from the figure of Busquets, protected by a line of three when the team had the leather: Sergi Roberto, Piqué and Umtiti. The rationality and omnipresence of the midfielder contrasted with the efforts of Messi and Griezmann to leave the ambushes of Granada. The strikers occupied the interior areas while Alba and Ansu Fati entered through the bands.
Dressed in white, Granada intimidated little and defended a lot, well placed and organized, as worked as supportive in the effort, especially in aid, decisive so that Barça did not take the shot against Rui Silva. The neat and dynamic game of the Catalans, schooled by Setién, lacked depth and auction, or if you like, the ability to improvise and unbalance figures like Messi or the punch of the absent Luis Suarez. Granada reduced the ability to maneuver Busquets, the pace subsided, barely counted occasions and the break was reached with 0-0. Up to 508 passes were counted for only two shots to the goal of Rui Silva.
Barça was not blunt, more patient than brave, and Granada was encouraged. Messi did not finish a play, very well defended in a staggered way, individually and collectively, also reduced to a stopped ball, and without the rosarino there is no life in Barça. Disabled Messi, Eteki took advantage of a mistake by Sergi Roberto to shoot at the right post of Ter Stegen The game had declined so much that the best Barca news was Griezmann’s recoveries.
Until the expulsion by Germán double card came and the entrance of Riqui Puig. The fine and fine Barça steering wheel was applied in pressure, as if it were a steering wheel, hungry for football at the Camp Nou, stole the leather and played for Busquets. At the touch of the midfielder, Arturo Vidal continued in a beautiful and precise way, camouflaged as false nine, so that Messi finished off the net: 1-0.
And with Messi’s goal it was over because Barça missed the shots of Luis Suarez. He has gained rigor and has lost a goal, at least against Granada, in a game on the other hand conditioned by a cold of the hell, as if with Setién the north wind had also arrived at the Camp Nou. The troubles of victory tempered the euphoria unleashed in some Barcelona environments with the arrival of Setién. The emotion was more on the scoreboard than in the game no matter how much it was known that Granada lost all 26 games at the Camp Nou. It is not time yet for excitement but for learning and the declaration of intentions of Setién at the Camp Nou. The ball is again at the feet of Barça. The best news for Busquets. It happens that the steering wheel does not score goals but that the victory depends on Messi.