Barcelona faced Granada at Camp Nou this evening with the chance to go top of La Liga with a win. The Blaugrana went into the game a point clear of fourth-placed Sevilla, level with second-placed Real Madrid and two behind Atletico Madrid, with a game in hand on all three. Victory this evening would have been a big step toward the title for Ronald Koeman’s men, only for Granada to spoil the party with a shock 2-1 win.
It had started so well. Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann combined superbly in the 24th minute to give the Blaugrana an invaluable early lead. Griezmann supplied Messi after a smart turn, with the Argentine seamlessly slotting on his favoured left foot to break the Andalusian resistance and get the Catalans off to an excellent start.
Granada got back on level terms, however, in the 63rd minute, when Venezuelan forward Darwin Machis broke through on goal and finished accurately. Things went from bad to worse for Barcelona minutes later, when Koeman was sent off by the referee, before Jorge Molina turned the tie on its head ten minutes from time with a goal that put Granada into a 2-1 lead that could potentially destabilise Barcelona’s title challenge.
“I think we dominated the game,” Koeman said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “We didn’t score the second goal that would have given us peace of mind. Analysing the goals against, they came from a lack of concentration from our defence.
“It’s cost us two points. Defensively we weren’t right and it’s cost us the match. Of course it’s a disappointing result, a very tough one as we depended on ourselves. We have to analyse it. Sunday’s game will be crucial for our season.”
Koeman also spoke on his sending off, a moment that means he’ll be serving a touchline ban for Barcelona’s games against Valencia and Atletico. “I wasn’t in the wrong,” he said. “According to the minutes, I disrespected the fourth official and it wasn’t like that. A lack of respect is to insult, and it wasn’t like that. We commented on several plays during the match in a respectful way. I want to know what words I’ve used to disrespect him. I didn’t use a bad word once.”