FC Barcelona failed to impress at home and to keep pace with Real Madrid. On a night where the club sorely missed Lionel Messi, Barcelona were only able to tie a very defensive Malaga. Ten men behind the ball for Malaga meant Barcelona’s offense was severely limited to wide play and the individual magic of Neymar.
Without Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Luis Suárez the offense of the club can only come from so many places. Javier Mascherano has been one of those sources lately. The match began on one of those what if scenarios from a long ball of his. Paco Alcácer scored a just offside goal in the third minute. This match desperately needed his first goal for the club but it did not come. Paco was mostly invisible during the match except a decent chip to Neymar in the ninth minute, and he was easily overshadowed by former club member Sandro now of Malaga.
Sergi Roberto had a strong early match with good overlaps yet numerous crosses that went to no avail. He and Javier were the toughest defenders on the night for the club if you consider Gerard Piqué played more as a number nine. He was strong in the box on set plays especially in the 12th and 13th minutes when two shots of his were denied.
Neymar tried to do his best Messi impersonation with numerous cuts in from the left side and cross field switches to Roberto and Arda Turan. Unfortunately when he lost the ball it lead to Malaga’s best chances on goal. Neymar’s giveaway in the 23rd minute lead to a decent Sandro break. Two shots by Rafinha in the 21st and 31st minutes and a low cross from Lucas Digne followed by a wide Sergio Busquets miss in the 44th minute were Barça’s only other chances of note during the first half.
A shout for a penalty saw Arda getting called for a foul in the 53rd minute. In the 56th Malaga almost scored after Marc-André ter Stegen charged but missed the ball on another break opportunity. Things turned in Barcelona’s favor in the 68th minute when a nasty tackle by Real Madrid loanee Diego Llorente saw the ref hold up a straight red. Barcelona were unable to capitalize on their twenty minute man advantage.
In the 83rd André Gomes almost played hero when his shot bounced off the crossbar. Piqué put in the rebound but he was offside. Barcelona were denied another penalty call in the 85th when striker Piqué was pulled down inside the box. Time wasting saw the match go deep into extra time. Age old foil of Barcelona Idriss Carlos Kameni struck again by denying a header from Neymar that should have won the match in the 94th minute. Things began to boil over when Juankar of Malaga saw a red for saying the magic words to the referee. The match ended nil to nil.
Barcelona were missing a moment of magic during the match. Neymar tried to supply it but was denied. Does he play better for Brazil than Barcelona? How much does the club depend on an aging Andrés Iniesta? Denis Suarez failed to impress. Speaking of depending, what about Messidependencia? What would the club ever do without the greatest player in history?