Another curious Barcelona display was highlighted with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen pulling off the pass of the match during their 2-0 win at Getafe.
The German’s long ball forward in the 41st minute found Luis Suarez who broke the deadlock at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Junior Firpo then doubled the advantage on the other side of the break, tucking away a rebound after Carles Perez’s effort from range was parried into his path.
The result handed Ernesto Valverde’s side their first away victory of the season but did little to reassure their fans after a poor start to the campaign.
LIFE IN OLD DOG
The demands from various sections of the Catalunya support for Suarez to be dropped have never been more pronounced than they were ahead of this clash. The striker had only scored in one outing this season with his performances deemed significantly below par, patience was wearing thin.
However, Valverde has stood by the former Liverpool forward, citing a four-week long injury lay-off and scant playing time for his discernible lack of sharpness. That said, injuries to Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fatu hardly left the Barca boss with an alternative to keeping faith in the 32-year-old.
With the opening goal at Getafe, Suarez took a step towards a mini resurgence. It was not a strong enough performance to silence his critics but at least he established that he’s got some life in him yet.
‘Fine-tuning’ – as Valverde put it – is still required. Suarez had three excellent one-on-one opportunities and only converted one of them. The encouraging bit though is that he had the sharpness to run in behind and latch on to those passes, even if he didn’t capitalise on two of them and was caught offside on a couple of other occasions.
BARCA CRACKS REMAIN
It does not bode well for the champions of Spain that their goalkeeper made arguably their biggest contributions in both attack and defence. Ter Stegen made a couple of outstanding saves to keep Getafe at bay and even took matters into his own hands in possession.
The Germany international was quick off his line to sweep up behind his centre-backs in the 22nd minute before finding Suarez with a superb ball over the top. In doing so, he became the first Barcelona keeper to provide an assist in the 21st century.
His pass saw the Catalans break the deadlock moments before half-time and was almost symbolic of how far they’ve fallen from their lofty ideals in terms of their playing philosophy. The famed tiki-taka brand was nowhere in sight, instead replaced – at least momentarily – by some good old fashioned route one football.
In the absence of Messi, Fati and Dembele, Barca were severely lacking in creativity with no one able to better Ter Stegen’s tally of one key pass. Goals came from a long ball forward and the left-back turning in a rebound. Hardly scintillating stuff.
To make matters worse, not only did the defence look suspect again but Clement Lenglet’s sending off means 19-year-old centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo may have to start their next league fixture.
WHERE ARE GETAFE GOING?
This had the makings of a famous win for the hosts. They haven’t beaten Barcelona in the league since 2011 and this was as good a time as any to end that wait. They had two or three great chances to score but didn’t take advantage.
Following a sensational fifth place finish last season, you have to ask where Getafe are going this term. The current campaign has been littered with missed opportunities as they’ve drawn four matches already.
Jose Bordalas’s side are contending with Europa League responsibilities this season but fatigue is a real concern and how much will those excursions affect their La Liga campaign?
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