Can Ernesto Valverde Survive Barca’s Worst Start For 25 Years?5 min read
Although newly-promoted Granada had started their season off well, most football watchers and pundits didn’t expect them to get anything from their game against Barcelona.
Within 64 seconds of their encounter against the Catalans they were 1-0 up, and it was a lead that they never looked like losing.
The reigning champions were, frankly, awful, and the blame game has already started.
Defensively, the team lacked pace and, at times, nous, whilst the starting front three were so ineffective, they might just as well have propped up a bar in the vicinity and watched the match on TV.
Ernesto Valverde has taken the brunt of supporter ire, as he has for much of his tenure despite his successes, and against Granada he brought it upon himself.
In recent matches, Arthur Melo has been a shining light in Barca’s midfield, and yet he was inexplicably benched for this match.
His replacement, Sergi Roberto, didn’t affect the play in anything like the same way as the Brazilian, whose associative play with Frenkie De Jong has been first class in the opening few games.
Denied that creativity in the middle of the park, it was difficult for the likes of Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to stay on the front foot.
Balls arrived in to them too late or not at all, and in Griezmann’s case, he was stationed too far over on the left side to make a difference. Philippe Coutinho had the same issue when he was at the club… makes you wonder.
Valverde should’ve been able to change things around to such an extent as to be able to get the win, but even the introductions of Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati and Arturo Vidal didn’t alter the dynamic.
The visitors looked lost, like a ship without a rudder, and the game’s second goal, when it arrived, was also in favour of the home side.
In fact, Granada were everything we expect of Barcelona.
Hard-working, inventive, sharp and hungry. They just wanted it more and that’s a damning indictment on the Blaugrana.
There are extenuating circumstances to an extent, and Messi still doesn’t look fully fit for example.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that, when the going got tough, Valverde wasn’t able to get Barca going. Just as he couldn’t against Roma or Liverpool.
And with the greatest of respect to Granada, the Andalusians can’t be compared to the Italian and English teams.
Can Valverde survive? He’s unlikely to fall on his sword just yet, but even if he does go, there are no outstanding candidates to bring in.
What a mess!
Listen to the latest episode of the Eye On LaLiga podcast with Oliver Wilson and Jason Pettigrove: Madrid Get Serious At Sevilla