It was a depressing night for Barcelona fans, as the blaugrana had arguably their poorest performance since Guardiola arrived to the club. True, Barcelona won 1-0, but the performance was absolutely dreadful.
Luckily for Barcelona, Sporting Gijon was absolutely dreadful in attack too and Barcelona managed to grind out a 1-0 win as Villa scored in one of the very few chances the blaugrana had.
With Iniesta in Messi's usual position and Keita in the midfield Barcelona had a terrible first half. The team controlled possession as usual but played in a very slow pace and was unable to trouble Gijon's defense. There was only one real chance, which Iniesta missed.
In the second half, Pedro and Piqué came into the match for Keita and Puyol, and David Villa scored in the 49th minute. However, when everyone expected Barcelona to take advantage of the momentum and build a more solid win, the team repeated their terrible first half performance. Make no mistake: if Barcelona had faced a more corageous team in attack, the result would have been very different.
As far as I'm concerned, today's performance was even worse than the one against Hercules, despite the result. Barcelona's home form in the league has been horrible. Even Xavi, usually a beacon of consistency, had an off day and missed a lot of passes. The only players who performed at their usual level were Daniel Alves and the in-form Sergio Busquets.
After two spectacular performances in a row, Barcelona disappointed their fans again today. Lionel Messi's absence can't be an excuse, since Barcelona have played (and played well) without the best player in the world in the past and since, even with Messi, Barcelona had already lost at home to Hercules. It's rather a problem of focus and attitude, which must be overcome as soon as possible.
On Saturday at San Mamés the team must bounce back. Another performance like this won't be enough to get the three points in a very, very difficult match. Real Madrid are looking strong and, if Barcelona want to retain their title, they will have to play like they did against Panathinaikos and at Atletico Madrid.
In the next La Liga home match against Mallorca on October 3, Barcelona must redeem themselves by putting on a show to the Camp Nou audience, like they did against Sevilla in the Super Cup and against Panathinaikos but have failed to do so in the league so far.
We're still at the beginning of the season and there's time for Barcelona to gain form and bounce back. The blaugrana fans certainly remember that the beginning of the 2008/2009 season, the most successful season club football history, was also a bit shaky. Maybe it's a sign...
A final word for Bojan: his performance today was no better than appaling. Where is that wonder kid who benched Zlatan Ibrahimovic last season? Barcelona need him to come back, and fast!
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