Monday, October 25, 2021

Barcelona 1-1 Granada: Araujo rescues blundering Blaugrana

SoccerNews in La Liga 20 Sep 2021

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Ronald Araujo’s 90th-minute header rescued Barcelona from a second straight home defeat in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Granada. 

Barca were in need of a response after going down 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League but instead ended up fortunate not to lose again. 

Granada’s most recent LaLiga victory had been at Camp Nou in April – ending a run of 24 straight defeats in this fixture – and they threatened another upset when Domingos Duarte scored early. 

Indeed, there were only 49 seconds of normal time remaining when Araujo saved the day in front of an angry crowd, keeping Barca unbeaten in the league but scarcely easing the tension. 

Less than two minutes were played when Sergio Escudero crossed beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen to the far post and Duarte’s downward header found the net. 

Ter Stegen was beaten again by a Jorge Molina volley that just cleared the crossbar, before Barca belatedly applied some pressure at the other end. 

Sergi Roberto hit the angle of post and crossbar at the second attempt following a corner, while only a sublime Luis Maximiano save denied Araujo after a firm header. 

The hosts were slow out of the traps again after the restart, though, and it appeared as though a remarkable Luuk de Jong miss 11 minutes from time would prove costly.

Bizarrely pitched as “more dangerous than Neymar” from crosses by Ronald Koeman, the on-loan striker nodded over from point-blank range. However, Araujo soon thundered in his own header from a similar position. 

What does it mean? Public patience wearing thin 

The response of the crowd to the Bayern humbling was surprisingly positive, with those supporters seemingly accepting the Bundesliga champions were a class above their rebuilding team.

However, there appeared to be a change in the mood at Camp Nou when Barca struggled again against far more modest opponents.

Applause was reserved for favourites old and new – Riqui Puig was roared onto the pitch in place of Sergio Busquets – but the rest of the match had a rather less cheery soundtrack, increasingly so as only two second-half attempts hit the target before Araujo intervened. 

The best of the bunch 

Araujo was one of the few Barca players to emerge from the Bayern game with credit – and the same was true of this match.

Still, the centre-back’s role as the Blaugrana’s chief attacking threat does not say much for the nominal forwards. He had five attempts – all with his head – including that vital equaliser. 

No end to injury woe

Alex Balde was only handed his chance due to Jordi Alba’s injury, but he had earned it with a bright cameo against Bayern, completing his only dribble and creating a chance in his 16 minutes on the field.

However, he lasted only 42 minutes of his LaLiga debut before hobbling off to the frustration of the home fans, who chanted the 17-year-old left-back’s name.

What’s next? 

Barca must be much better on Thursday at Cadiz, while Granada have little time to get over the heartbreak of the late goal, hosting Real Sociedad on the same day. 

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