Barcelona’s season is unravelling at a rate that is scarcely believable as they suffered yet another defeat in quick succession, going down 2-1 to Valencia at the Camp Nou tonight.
Having gone 37 games unbeaten in all competitions up until they were defeated in the Clásico last month, they have now lost three consecutive games in La Liga for the first time in thirteen years – not to mention their recent Champions League exit at the hands of Atlético Madrid – in a run that has seen them go from all-conquering superpowers to being in serious danger of imploding and finishing behind both Madrid clubs in the table.
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 17, 2016
The last time Valencia came to the Camp Nou, they might as well not have bothered showing up – 7-0 and it should have been more. This time, though, Barcelona were suffering, both mentally and physically. There is something very wrong with this team and Valencia took full advantage.
Two moments summed up this game from a Barça point of view. The first was the opening Valencia goal – a Guilherme Siqueira shot deflecting in off of Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitić:
The second came late on. The ball fell to Gerard Piqué, who remained up front while the home side were chasing equaliser, who could not take advantage of the space gifted to him and dragged a tired half-volley wide.
Gerard Piqué | GOALS & SKILLS 2016 | https://t.co/QplZEDJs3F
— Daniel Vidales (@DanielVidales96) April 17, 2016
Both were indicative of a side that is short of luck and energy – vital commodities in any title race which would appear to have deserted Barcelona at just the wrong time.
Barça remain top (for now) but the points difference, the “cushion” as Andrés Iniesta called it, is no more. The gap between first and second is now down to the head-to-head record between Luis Enrique’s side and Atlético, which has Barcelona ahead but only just.
Earlier today, Atlético did the necessary by dispatching relegation-threatened Granada with ease – running out comfortable 3-0 winners at the Calderón thanks to goals from Koke, Fernando Torres and Ángel Correa.
The result is the seventh win in eight for Diego Simeone’s side – and in the form they are in they could well be on for a repeat of their 2014 league success, provided they are not distracted by their upcoming Champions League semi-finals.
Yesterday, meanwhile, Real Madrid demolished Getafe 5-1 to collect their seventh win on the bounce. Karim Benzema, Isco, Gareth Bale, James Rodríguez and Cristiano were all on the scoresheet to ensure that Zinedine Zidane’s side remain in contention for what be their first La Liga title since 2012.
This weekend’s action has blown the league race wide open – it might still technically in Barcelona’s hands but they are in comfortably the worst form of the three and if results go against them they could be as low as third place by end of play on Wednesday night.
Playing away at Deportivo is never easy at the best of times, but the form Barça are in it is hard to see them picking up all three points in La Coruña. Deportivo have recorded seventeen draws so far this season – an eighteenth is a distinct possibility.
Barcelona’s saving grace this week could come form the fact that both Atlético and Real face difficult ties – against high-flying Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao respectively – but the reality is that they have to start winning again soon or their season will crumble into dust.
Which sort of flies in the face of their “best team ever assembled” tag.
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