Barcelona’s winless run in La Liga stretched to four games on Saturday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Alaves at Mendizorroza Stadium.
Antoine Griezmann’s first goal of the season cancelled out Luis Rioja’s opener, but Barca were unable to find a winner despite playing with an extra man for the final 30 minutes after Jota’s red card.
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When Barca lost to Getafe two weeks ago they created very few chances after falling behind. This wasn’t the case here. They created more than enough to win the game, but were unable to get past Fernando Pacheco in the home goal.
Ansu Fati and Griezmann both missed good openings in the first half, while Pacheco made a string of late saves to earn his side a point, with Ansu, Lionel Messi, Sergino Dest and Miralem Pjanic all denied by the goalkeeper.
While Barca created chances, they didn’t take them. That’s been a recurring theme this season, and as Griezmann said after the draw: “We must improve in that aspect of our game.”
Barca were ultimately made to pay for a lapse of confidence in defence. Gerard Pique misread Neto’s positioning and the goalkeeper got himself tangled up, allowing Rioja in to open the scoring against the run of play.
On an individual level, the most worrying performance came from Sergio Busquets, who was one of three players removed at half-time by Ronald Koeman.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Koeman has dithered on substitutions in the past but made three brave changes at the break and almost got his reward. Moving Frenkie de Jong back and adding Pjanic and Pedri swung the game in Barca’s favour.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Neto, 5 — The Brazilian has done well in the absence of Marc-Andre ter Stegen but made a big mistake for the Alaves goal. Pique’s pass wasn’t good, either, but he should have done better.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 — Improved in the second half, linking well with Trincao, but still lacking quality in the final third.
DF Gerard Pique, 5 — His awkward pass for Neto cost Barca two points, even if he did improve afterwards.
DF Clement Lenglet, 6 — Played OK, but was sacrificed at half-time as Koeman looked for a more forward-thinking formation.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 — Up and down the left, but struggled to make an impact in the final third due to the sheer number of Alaves bodies behind the ball.
MF Sergio Busquets, 4 — Another below-par performance. Gave the ball away too much and was booked for a late challenge before being substituted at the break.
MF Frenkie de Jong, 7 — For the second game running did a really good job as a makeshift centre-back in the second half, having played the first 45 minutes in midfield.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 6 — Didn’t do a lot wrong, but was taken off at half-time, perhaps because his qualities suit a more open game.
Error! Filename not specified.Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann celebrate after scoring a goal against Alaves in La Liga. Getty Images
FW Antoine Griezmann, 7 — Finally broke his duck for the season with a chipped finish to make it 1-1. The goal should do his confidence the world of good.
FW Ansu Fati, 7 — No goal on his 18th birthday, but some nice moments including a lovely nutmeg in the second half. Missed his best chance, though, skewing wide when one-on-one when the game was still goalless.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 — Only a stunning Pacheco save denied him the winner late on. It’s true he’s not at his best at the moment, but he’s still a danger when he’s on the ball and the orchestrator of much of Barca’s play.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 7 — Must be wondering what more he can do to take Busquets’ place in the team.
MF Pedri, 6 — Another good performance from the 17-year-old off the bench, whose presence seems to improve Barca’s pressing game.
FW Francisco Trincao, 6 — Lively on the right, but unable to make the most of some promising positions.
DF Sergino Dest, 6 — Came on at left-back and had a chance to win the game from a quick Messi free kick, but his shot was saved.
FW Martin Braithwaite, NR — Hardly touched the ball after Koeman threw him on in search of a second goal.