Ronald Araujo was the saviour for Barcelona as they just about managed to salvage a point against Granada, playing out a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou.
Looking to bounce back from their midweek mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich, Barcelona were off to the worst possible start as Granada took the lead within two minutes after kick-off, with defender Domingos Duarte heading home a Sergio Escudero cross. They could have soon doubled their lead, but Jorge Molina’s effort went over.
Barcelona were spurred on and enjoyed a spell of control, leading to an effort from Sergi Roberto that hit the woodwork. However, they couldn’t sustain the pressure and it was the visitors who again conjured up a few half-chances. Close to half-time, though, the Blaugrana came close to equalising, only for Ronald Araujo’s powerful header to be saved brilliantly by Luis Maximiano.
It was more of the same after half-time as Barcelona weren’t able to create many openings and when they did, they were let down by some shoddy finishing. Memphis Depay failed to put away a couple of half-chances while substitute Luuk de Jong missed a sitter, heading over from just a few yards out. However, in the dying embers, the equaliser did come as Araujo powered home a bullet header from Gavi’s cross to rescue a point.
It was a nothing display from the Catalans, who looked devoid of any sort of clear game-plan and just kept hitting crosses into the box. The last fifteen minutes of the game even saw Ronald Koeman bizarrely deploy Gerard Pique as a striker in search of a goal. Questions will continue to be asked of the manager as the pressure continues to mount. Here are our player ratings for the Barcelona stars after a sub-par display.
???[ @jvehils?] | BREAKING: Ronald Koeman will NOT continue as the coach of Barcelona. The decision has been made. As soon as the club finds a replacement for the coach, he will be sacked. pic.twitter.com/zTeDMsS0I7
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) September 20, 2021
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6.5/10
Not a lot he could have done to stop the opening goal. But did make one or two decent stops to keep his side in the game and was good with the ball at his feet, distributing fairly accurately from the back.
Sergino Dest: 5/10
Back into the starting XI after recovering from his injury, the USMNT international did not offer much quality with his crosses going forward from right-back or at left-back where he shifted after Alejandro Balde’s injury. Left spaces open at the back as well. Still unconvincing.
Ronald Araujo: 9/10
Easily the best Barcelona player on the pitch and by some distance. Meant business from the word-go, defending aggressively to keep things in check at the back. Posed a major threat in the opposition box from set-pieces as well. Almost equalised close to half-time with a brilliant header, only to see his effort saved by an equally top-class stop.
There was no stopping his header the second time on though, as he thumped the ball into the net to level things up late in the game. Was pumped from the off and one could see that in his display. One of the rare positives so far this term for Barcelona.
?? Ronald Araújo against Granada:
⚽️ 1 Goal
?? 1/1 Dribbles
? 3 Shots On Target
? 94% Pass Accuracy
? 1/1 Ground Duels
? 10/12 Aerial Duels
? 2 Clearances
Tough times for Barcelona at the moment but they have a top defender here coming up. ? pic.twitter.com/IditNaGNmU
— Mozo Football (@MozoFootball) September 20, 2021
Eric Garcia: 6/10
An improvement on some of his recent performances but still not near his best. Used the ball well when in possession but was still nervy on occasions at the back, and better teams could make the most of it.
Alejandro Balde: 6/10
Making his La Liga debut, the teenage left-back hard started off well and looked okay in both aspects of his game, until a back problem led to his substitution before half-time.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Well below his best. Was partly culpable for the opening goal and failed to lead the Barcelona fightback as expected, with Granada doing well to shut him off for most parts. Did improve after the break, making some driving forward runs but could not impact the game in the way fans have grown used to seeing from him.
Sergio Busquets: 5/10
Like his midfield partner, the Barcelona captain was nowhere near his best on the night. Looked exposed when Granada broke forward on the counter, while his passing was unusually sloppy at times as well. Could have done better to thwart the opener.
Sergi Roberto: 5/10
Coming into the side in place of the injured Pedri, the Spaniard was just not able to offer the same level of control or creative essence in the middle. Hit the woodwork in the first half before making way for Luuk de Jong at the break.
54 – @FCBarcelona have made 54 total crosses vs Granada CF, their second highest tally in a single LaLiga game since, at least 2005/06 (after 55 vs Málaga in Novembert 2016). Bombing. pic.twitter.com/WwegUTpT33
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 20, 2021
Yusuf Demir: 6/10
Getting an opportunity in the starting XI, the Austrian youngster tried to make things happen but not everything worked out for him. Still did not shy away and showed the desire to get on the ball at every given opportunity. With time, can be an asset.
Memphis Depay: 6/10
Another player who worked very hard to make things happen for Barcelona but very little came off. At times was guilty of spurning a couple of half-decent chances, but was involved in most things positive for the hosts. Needs better support from those around him, though.
Philippe Coutinho: 4/10
Making his first start since December last year, the Brazilian playmaker looked scratchy at best on Monday night. Hardly did anything of note going forward during his time on the pitch. The minutes will do him good, but needs to up his game big time.
Oscar Mingueza: 5.5/10
On for the injured Balde in the first half and slotted in at right-back with Dest moving to the left side. Fared better defensively but not much quality going forward, which is to be expected given that he is not a natural full-back.
Luuk de Jong: 3/10
?Ronald Koeman told NOS: "When there is a cross, Luuk [de Jong] is more dangerous than Neymar" pic.twitter.com/1gXk5bSJh9
— Sarath?️ (@srtfcb7i) September 20, 2021
Replaced Roberto at half-time. Missed a great chance to equalise, inexplicably heading over from a couple of yards out. Was hailed by the manager not so long ago for the aerial threat he provides, but that was nowhere to be seen on Monday.
On for Coutinho at the hour mark and looked much more purposeful going forward. Got the assist for the equaliser with a fine, hanging cross.
Riqui Puig: N/A
Came on for Busquets for the last fifteen minutes. Hardly offered anything.
Gerard Pique: N/A
Replaced Demir in the 76th minute. Played as an auxiliary forward without much reward as Barcelona pushed for an equaliser. Booked late on.
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