Osasuna 2-2 Barcelona: Ernesto Valverde fails to address crux of the complications yet again

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 22:34 31/08/2019
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The fingers are hovering over the panic button at Camp Nou as Barcelona dropped points for the second time in three La Liga games this season.

The defending champions failed to build on their impressive win over Real Betis and were halted by an inspired Osasuna side.

With just four points from a possible nine, the Catalans have recorded their worst start since 2008/09.

What went right and what went wrong for manager Ernesto Valverde in this intense clash against the newly promoted side? We take a look deeper look.

Key stats

Minutes: 90

Goals scored: 2

Goals conceded: 2

Shots: 8

Shots conceded: 15

Possession: 74.6 per cent

31/08/2019 SANTANDER osasuna vs barsa FOTO: JUAN MANUEL SERRANO ARCE

30-second summary

Valverde went ahead with a bold line-up, benching Ivan Rakitic and Arthur to provide Sergi Roberto more opportunities in midfield and Carles Perez another start in attack.

Some gambles paid off, and some didn’t. But the problem did not lie in the starting line-up to start with.

For the second season in a row, Barcelona are depending on second-half heroics to save face after woeful performances. That they have conceded first in all three games this season is unsettling and it’s time the manager addressed it.

Got right – Substitutions

31/08/2019 SANTANDER osasuna vs barsa FOTO: JUAN MANUEL SERRANO ARCE

Undoubtedly, Valverde’s biggest positive from the game, the substitutions were on point and yielded results almost immediately.

Ansu Fati came on for Nelson Semedo at half-time, with Sergi Roberto and Rafinha dropping to defence and midfield, respectively.

The 16-year-old scored with his head off a cross from Perez – yet another La Masia kid Valverde showed faith in – to level the score at 1-1. Soon, Arthur came on for the first time this season to replace Rafinha at the centre of the pitch.

The Brazilian took the mantle from Perez as Barcelona’s best player on the pitch by creating immediate impact after coming on. He scored a magnificent goal to provide Barcelona a momentary lead and produced two goal-scoring chances.

Got wrong – First-half

It’s not a good sign for Barcelona that they need a wake-up call in the first-half to trigger a delayed response in the second.

The manager deserves a major chunk of the blame when this happens for two seasons in a row.

That the Catalans are dormant until they concede should provide opponents with a major psychological boost ahead of every game. Most teams capitalise on this and push Barcelona to a point from where recovery is highly improbable.

Got wrong – Mentality

The mentality of the team after taking a lead also concerns.

With the exception from last week when Real Betis displayed an awful defensive performance and Barcelona took advantage, the Spanish giants switch into a conservative mood after going ahead.

This aspect of their play which is again an impression of how the manager wants them to play cost the team two 3-0 leads in the Champions League in the last two seasons. That Valverde has shown no signs of taking measures to kill the game after taking the lead warrants concern.


Credit when due, the manager did well to lead the team’s recovery in the second half and his substitutions were game-changing. However, the fact remains that Valverde must do more to prevent a situation where the team must depend on a second-half hero.

Valverde deserves the appreciation for going ahead with a bold line-up, but he must develop more clarity regarding the roles and positions of the players.

For the second game in a row, Frenkie de Jong disappointed as an advanced midfielder. Roberto was shifted to right-back after repeated claims that he will solely function as a midfielder.

These are some aspects that the coach must work on ahead of the big games that await Barcelona at the crucial end of the season.

Rating: 6/10

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