Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona
Barcelona went into a tricky away tie against Osasuna knowing that three points would guarantee the leadership of La Liga going into the World Cup. Through the adversity, Barcelona delivered perhaps their most satisfying win of the season for Xavi Hernandez.
After just six minutes, David Garcia opened the scoring from a corner, in spite of controversy. The Blaugrana were struggling to deal with the intensity in the opening stages and could not hold onto the ball under pressure.
As a long clearance bounced into the Osasuna half, an already booked Robert Lewandowski jumped into Garcia without looking at the ball and was subsequently booked again. It looked well and truly as if Barcelona had lost their composure at that point, with Lewandowski making a curious gesture as he went off. Barcelona survived until half-time before disaster struck again – this time Gerard Pique sent off for complaining to the referee, despite being on the bench.
The second half showed an immediate improvement for the Blaugrana as they looked smarter and more capable of rising to the occasion. Just three minutes in, Pedri fired a loose ball in past two defenders on the line and the goalkeeper.
Osasuna came forward tentatively, aware of their advantage. Uncertain of their position on the ball, they came close through some bending crosses but the only time Marc-Andre ter Stegen was tested was via a pot-shot from Chimy Avila.
With five minutes remaining, the moment of the match arrived. Frenkie de Jong, moved to central defence, flighted a sumptuous ball over the top for Raphinha, substituted on, who lobbed a header over the goalkeeper. Reminiscent of Robin van Persie’s goal against Spain in the 2014 World Cup, it gifted Barcelona victory too.
The celebrations were vibrant at the final whistle, Barcelona’s players going over to their fans to enjoy themselves. Having been presented with adversity, this time they came through it – a step forward for Barcelona. Osasuna will feel frustrated. The match went to plan perfectly until the equaliser and then they lost their way – they stay sixth rather than third, knowing they could drop to eighth.