The game started off promisingly. An early goal against 19th-placed Granada. Could we be headed for a blowout win? Alas, it was not the case. Granada would storm back to take the lead, and the match would end in an embarrassing 3-3 draw. Granada had scored 8 goals away from home all season, and they got 3 tonight. Barça's defense in shambles, the front line wasteful of chances. Not a good match for anyone. Let's take a look at some ratings and try to make sense of what's happening.
Marc-André ter Stegen: 6/10 - He came back off a significant layoff the replace the (shaky) Iñaki Peña, and the rust was clear. He misplaced a few passes in the first half, gave the ball away, and looked equally shaky with the ball at his feet. As for the three goals conceded, well, I'm lenient on keepers. I know how difficult it is to react when a shot comes in. And when your defense is nonexistent, it can make even the best of keepers look terrible. He probably could've done a bit better on one or two of the goals, but he also did have two huge saves. Honestly, Granada could've had 5 if not for the German. Wow, that's sad to say. But true.
Cancelo: 6/10 - He had a good cross for Yamal's first goal. He also played well in the first half down the left side. He's essentially the winger, which isn't a bad thing. Defensively, he didn't help much -Raphinha was more of a defender in his minutes than Cancelo.
Iñigo Martínez: 5/10 - Watching this one was interesting. What I'm about to say for Iñigo holds true for Cubarsí and Koundé as well, as a heads up. When you watch them, they don't make mistakes individually, at least not in this one. Taken out of context, they're fine. Placed in the shape of the team and in relation to the positioning of their teammates, they're awful. They're constantly leaving spaces, not finding angles to cover the other team, and they're horrible in the air. Set-pieces for Granada were like guaranteed attempts on goal in this one. The whole of the defense was utterly incapable of marking anyone of corners or free kicks. Hard to watch.
Cubarsí: 5/10 - For my money, Cubarsí's worst match of his young senior career. He was out of place often and couldn't get a header if his life depended on it. On Granada's second goal, his weak attempt at a clearance fell right to the opposition, and they capitalized. This team has deep structural issues, and there's no quick fix. Usually, the midfield is a big part of that, but tonight they couldn't even defend corners.
Koundé:6/10 - The Frenchman is a good right back. He's good going forward and his interplay with Yamal and even Raphinha is very good. He sometimes commits silly fouls though, and finds himself in less than optimal positions when he has to track back. That's alright if its Cancelo or Balde doing that, but it can't be both Cancelo and Koundé at once. He's clearly a talented player, but Barça's defensive malaise is a common issue to every player right now.
Christensen: 7/10 - It's still quite early for Christensen in this new role, but it has some promise. As a long-term defensive midfielder? Probably not. As a decent backup, there's something there. He's decent on the ball, and it did help Barça get out of the press early on. Part of Barça's good start in this one was their ability to play out from the back, and the Dane helps Frenkie in that first phase. On defense, he should help lock down the center-right side, but no one defended well. It's more of a structural issue at this point.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10 - Frenkie is a polarizing player, but this one was... not much of anything. He was fine. He didn't do much that was obviously good or obviously bad. Having Christensen should, in theory, help him, but the entire team is a shambles right now.
Gundogan: 7/10 - The German is one of the few that's consistently putting in good performances. He clearly wants it, you can tell in his pace and mannerisms out there. It's not easy to play through the middle in this squad, but he does his best. He pulled out a few good plays in this one. The assist to Lewandowski for the second goal was quite nice, for example. Unfortunately, it's not enough. He physically can't do much more than he did in this one.
Pedri: 6/10 - The talent is there, it always has been. But recently he hasn't been nearly as effective as he has been. I don't mean when it comes to goals and assists - he's never been one to stuff the stat sheet and he won't ever really be. It just seemed like he always made the right play, weighted the pass correctly, got out of trouble easily. Now it feels like that only happens half the time. He misplaced some passes, missed others, and didn't really put his imprint on the game. Even despite this, Barça did score three goals and had quite a few chances. They weren't exactly dry on opportunities. Just seems like there can be more with Pedri.
Fermín: 6/10 - He came on late to try to help them score a winner. It's always hard to grade a player that doesn't play too many minutes, as he simply wasn't involved in quite enough actions. Plus, Barça's late-game strategy was give the ball to Yamal and pray. However, Fermín is a player that always does well, for me. Him in that attacking mid role provides good results for Barça.
Lewandowski: 5/10 - He had a good finish for the second goal, credit there. He also almost found Gundogan on a nice back heel. But I'm sick and tired of seeing him out on the wing like Neymar or in the center of the pitch, dribbling like he's Messi. At this point, it must be an instruction from Xavi, because there's simply no way he's doing it alone and no one's correcting it (I hope). He's simply always out of position, with little to no box presence when they really need it. He failed to shoot a good chance in the box, and he missed a wide open goal that would've made it 2-0. His level of production is simply not good enough.
Yamal: 9/10 - It's absolutely disheartening to see the reliance this team has on the 16-year old. Sure, he's absolutely incredible for his age, but this is a squad with multiple veteran players. Lewandowski, Gundogan, Cancelo. And time and again, they turn to Yamal for salvation. Save us, they cry. And he tried his best, scoring two goals. The second was a screamer from well outside the box. He also was a general menace on the right, sending in good cross after cross. He's special, but the team should have a plan of attack besides just giving it to Lamine and hoping for the best.
Raphinha: 6/10 - Raphinha was almost playing left back, which was an odd decision. I would've thought he'd be a bit further out and up, what with them needing a goal. He did have one play on the right that he sprung a nice cross from, and his free kick resulted in an chance, even if it was offside. A bit of rust was to be expected though, as he's just come back from injury.
Marc Guiu: 6/10 - He missed a header off a nice cross from Yamal that would've been the game winner, but as that was his first touch, it's hard to fault him. Other than that, he didn't have much involvement in the match. His hair was better before, though.
The conversation must be had at this point: Should Xavi leave at the end of the season, or should he be relieved of his duties now? The season is basically over at this point, and realistically the Champions League isn't an option. Barça are in serious danger of dropping out of the top four entirely and failing to secure a Champions League spot for next season. Would it be better to just take the plunge on a new manager now and use the second half of this season as an adjustment period? So that next season they won't have to start completely fresh? Things aren't improving under Xavi. Club legend or not, Barça are in trouble.