Barcelona dropped their first points of the season after drawing 2-2 against their Catalan neighbours Girona on Sunday evening.
Despite going ahead early on through Lionel Messi, things took a turn for the worse for Barca when Clement Lenglet was given his marching orders for a raised elbow, following a VAR referral.
Christian Stuani scored a goal either side of half time to put the visitors into the lead, before Gerard Pique managed to head home midway through the second half to salvage a point for his side.
Key Talking Point
It’s difficult to accurately gauge a side’s performance when they are forced to play the majority of a game with ten men, but it is fair to suggest that Barcelona didn’t adapt quickly enough to their changed circumstances.
Both of Girona’s goals were easily avoidable and Ernesto Valverde’s decision not to immediately bring on Samuel Umtiti as soon as Lenglet was sent off came back to haunt him.
On the balance of play Barcelona probably deserved to win, but individual mistakes at a delicate point in the match ended up costing them.
Starting XI: Ter Stegen (6); Semedo (6), Pique (5), Lenglet (5), Alba (6); Busquets (6), Arthur (6), Vidal (7); Messi (8*), Dembele (5), Suarez (7).
Substitutes: Umtiti (6), Rakitic (6), Coutinho (7).
Star Man – Another game, another stellar performance from Lionel Messi.
The diminutive forward was doing everything he possibly could to win the match for his side and on another day he could have easily picked up a handful of goals. He had to settle for just the one on this occasion, but his current form suggests that another huge goal scoring season is on the horizon.
Messi is the best FK taker in the world
— Mr. Jack Robinson (@jackdre02) September 23, 2018
There is literally NO player today who compares to Messi.
— Sikne (@susuu24) September 23, 2018
Worst Player – He might have notched a goal to draw his side level, but Gerard Pique was all over the place for both of Girona’s goals.
He was caught flat footed for the first and was far too weak and far too slow to deal with Portu for the second. More and more mistakes are creeping into the Spaniard’s game and that may start becoming a real concern in the future.
Clement Lenglet escapes judgement on account of the fact that his red card seemed extremely harsh.
Pique doing his best Ramos impression tonight. Commits an error that leads to a goal, then scores a clutch header to make fans forget about the former. 2-2 against Girona!
— Michael (@CholoColcho) September 23, 2018
Piqué has always had an error in him. But the start of this campaign has been littered with more than usual.
The decision to buy Lenglet (a left-sided CB) when they already had a world class LCB in Umtiti, instead of a long-term successor to Piqué at RCB, was poor recruitment.
— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) September 23, 2018
Barcelona now turn their attention to an away fixture against Leganes on Wednesday evening before returning back to the Nou Camp to face Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.