FC Barcelona welcomed Girona to Barcelona on Sunday night as they looked to test themselves against the league leaders. Girona are a side that can concede goals, but also score plenty of their own. It would be a good matchup, one sure to excite the fans. Only question is, who would come out on top - Xavi or Míchel?
The match would indeed be high-scoring, but Xavi's side would come up short. Barça just seem to be incapable of finishing their chances, despite creating tons of them. It must be said that, while there are valid criticisms of Xavi, the lack of goals can't be blamed on him. Whether it's a question of confidence or technique, Barcelona aren't finishing.
Let's take a look at each player and how they fared in this one.
Peña - 7/10: Seems odd to give a keeper that conceded four a positive grade, but he had a good save in the first half, as well as saving another with his face in the 82nd minute. Unfortunately, he couldn't do much on any of the goals, except maybe the fourth. Classic case of the defense making the keeper look bad.
Koundé - 6/10: Was forced to defend in a lot of space and did well on a few actions but also looked a bit lost at times. Couldn't keep Girona from the ball in the 3rd goal, allowed Savio to run free often. Not a good game at all from a disorganized backline, and Koundé was part of it. He's still talented enough to defend well on certain plays, but overall a rough one.
Cancelo - 7/10: - Shot when he probably should've passed to Lewa. Still good on that action though, and he made some dangerous plays throughout. He's clearly talented, although his decision making could improve at times. Xavi's done a good job of hiding him defensively as of late, so he didn't do much good or bad on that end.
Araujo - 6/10: Looked shaky with the mask on, and was dribbled past at times. However once the mask came off he was better. Great pass to Raphinha near the end of the first half, who couldn't finish. However, his second half was quite bad. Couldn't deal with Stuani on the third goal, and let his fellow Uruguayan win an aerial duel. It's the first bad game I've seen from him in quite a while, unfortunately.
Christensen - 6/10: A rare mistake game from him. The first goal came from a runner on his backside, as he tried to intercept but was too slow and afforded way too much space. He seemed a bit off in this match, as perhaps he had some discomfort? Not sure, but he wasn't his usual self at all.
Balde - 7/10: Came on in the 65th for Christensen. Xavi had him playing a strange sort of hybrid winger/left back role, with Cancelo a bit behind him in what was essentially a 3-man defense. He tried to make some things happen and did fine, but wasn't too impactful.
Gundogan - 8/10: Had to drop back a bit in the second part of the first half to help Frenkie defend. Didn't have much going forward. In the second, though, he was much more involved offensively. Had plenty of chances but was quite wasteful of them. He did pull one back late, though, with a great left footed banger on the turn. Overall, quite a good match from him, and I can't blame him too much for missing chances. It's just a Barça thing, I guess.
Pedri - 7/10: Pedri had a good advanced role in that first half on the right. Found space easily and had a good few balls into the box that unfortunately just weren't finished. As the game wore on, however, he seemed a bit... tired? It was similar to Christensen. He did play well, though, showing some of that Pedri magic a few times.
De Jong - 6.5/10: All over the place on defense. Unsure of where to go and how to defend. Good enough on the ball. His passing and ball-carrying is just superb. His offensive output was too good to give him a straight 6, although I wanted to. The shape when he defends just seems to be completely unorganized. It was much better when Gundogan dropped back, but in the second half they needed the German to push forward, and Girona were making Barça look silly at times.
Fermin - 7/10: Tried to get involved offensively but couldn't do much. Almost had a bicycle kick late on, but scuffed it a bit wide.
Raphinha - 6/10: Wasted a beautiful ball from Araujo with a poor first touch. Wasteful in the first half with heavy touches and wayward shots. There was also some miscommunication on defense. Continued his wasteful ways into the second. Simply needs to be better.
Félix - 6/10: Had an interesting role down the middle, almost as a 10, where he had some good actions. He drifted wide left naturally as the game went on though, and wasn't super impressive in the first half. In the second, he was pretty invisible, so much so that I don't remember hearing his name. Not good enough.
Lewandowski - 6/10: Had a nice header to get the first goal. Didn't look too bad in the first half, although his first touch was a bit off. However, was a good presence in the box. As the game went on, he got worse. Took a header off Araújo's head, when the Uruguayan really had a better chance at it. He also missed a wide open header in the 93rd minute that would've tied the game. He was completely free and just scuffed it wide. Inexcusable at this point.
Ferran - 7/10: Came on in the 65th for Raphinha. Looked to be dangerous, but didn't produce much. He did provide a bit of an extra boost, though, which was needed. Got the assist to Gundogan for the second goal.
Yamal - 7/10: Came on the 65th for Félix. He was involved in a fair few actions, and did fairly well, but couldn't quite produce a spark.
Barcelona seem to repeat the script over and over again. Have more possession, more chances, and barely score. Meanwhile, the other team has a few chances but are much more clinical and get up early. This isn't to say Girona were lesser; far from it. In fact, they showed exactly why they're top of La Liga. However, the fact remains that Barça had more chances and failed to score. Xavi's men will have to do something quick to fix this problem.