A week of losses continued and the damage at the Camp Nou accumulates. Barcelona lost to Real Madrid at the Santiago BernabÃ©u last Saturday; they lost a legal case against their former president Joan Laporta on Thursday, re-opening the wounds of a civil war at a club with a perilous propensity to division; on Saturday night they lost again, this time in Catalonia. JoaquÃn Larriveyâ€™s goal meant Barcelona lost 1-0 to Celta Vigo and lost their place at the top of the table. They had enjoyed a six-point lead over Real; now, they stand two points behind.
Just as importantly, at times it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Barcelona are losing their identity. There were chances here for Barcelona to have won this game comfortably and, had they done so, the analysis may have been different. Four times they hit the frame of the goal and there were nine more shots on target. Celtaâ€™s keeper, Sergio, made a series of superb saves. But even if Barcelona had found a way through, the doubts would have remained after a game against a hugely impressive Celta side and in the aftermath of defeat in the clÃ¡sico.
There is little of the pace, precision or control that had once defined Barcelona; the chances they made came by a more direct route. Yet if few of the old virtues were in evidence, some of the old flaws were recognisable in the way they conceded the gameâ€™s only goal.
It came on 55 minutes and it came from a long clearance from Sergio. Javier Mascherano was out-jumped by Pablo HernÃ¡ndez, whose flick-on reached Nolito, a strong candidate to get his first Spain call-up in a fortnightâ€™s time. As it bounced up, Dani Alves made a mess of bringing it under control and Sergio Busquets dangled a foot tentatively, watching it escape him. Nolito back-heeled cleverly into the path of Larrivey who slotted the ball home.
At the other end, Barcelona had wasted lots of chances and would continue to do so as they chased the game. The game had started with Neymar hitting the bar. Lionel Messi had three chances in four first-half minutes, the first pushed away brilliantly, the second cleared, via the bar, by Jonny Castro, and the third a header over the top. And the sense this just was not going to happen increased when Neymar hit the bar from six yards at the start of the second half.
Sergio brilliantly pushed away a shot from Luis SuÃ¡rez and easily caught a header from the Uruguayan making his home debut. As the game slipped away from Barcelona, Messi hit the top corner of post and bar from a free-kick. In the meantime, Celta had very nearly made it 2-0 when lovely footwork from Charles drew a save from Claudio Bravo. It could have been worse. But one goal was painful enough. – The Independent