Even through Barcelona did get the job done for the most part, it was impossible to shake the feeling of slight disappointment from the overall performance and especially upfront, where Lionel Messi set up his teammates numerous times with comfortable opportunities that should have been easily converted.
From Pedro missing an excellent chance in front of the goalkeeper due to bad timing of the shot on his part, to Alexus Sanchez hitting the post and lucking out because of a poor clearance by Gorka Elustondo that hit Zubikarai of all people, and Cesc Fabregas who was bad with the ball in the box and outside of it.
Sense of urgency is a word lightly thrown around, but it’s usually used to describe a team playing slowly, predictably and without movement. Barcelona kept the passes at the player’s feet instead of into space, the little that Sociedad were allowing, at least in the first half.
The first half was everything that’s wrong with Barcelona over the last three seasons during their bad matches: A slow attack that didn’t have Andres Iniesta or Neymar to spark it into life, without anyone moving without the ball, while everyone waits for Lionel Messi to beat players in a one on one situation in order to open up the ultra defensive set up from Sociedad.
Defensively, Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique were once again exposed as a duo that struggles to handle counter attacks, as Carlos Vela should have scored at least once from the three very good chances he was able to create. Eventually the sending off of Iñigo Martínez was a big help in the second half as Barcelona turned their possession into real chances they couldn’t convert.
With Neymar watching from a high spot at the Camp Nou, Messi was alone in his attempts to bring the right kind of creativity and surprise to the Barcelona attack, which only started looking dangerous in the second half, with space suddenly created due to Sociedad being with 10 men. Messi himself missed a couple of good chances while Sociedad players did everything in their power to hold him down.
So we’re back to square one? Lionel Messi and 10 players watching him try and break deadlocks? Xavi is more and more of an usher boy this season, while Gerardo Martino has something with Andres Iniesta. Iniesta has completed the full 90 minutes only 11 times this season, and seems to be the player suffering the most from the dreaded rotation that seems to affect only certain players while others are exempt from it.
An answer to their home loss against Valencia wasn’t found in this match – Barcelona weren’t angry or didn’t seem hungry as well. Just a team that knows there are certain problems with its style and personnel, but refused to do something about it and is now once again at the mercy of individual talent to get them out of the predicament they seem to be in, with momentum and rival’s ability that seems to be against them.