Euro 2020 Special

La Liga: Messi Gives Setien Winning Start

Barcelona 1-0 Granada

Barcelona have begun the Quique Setien era on the right foot. Lionel Messi’s right foot made sure of that as his goal gave them a 1-0 win over Granada. As a result, they have jumped back up to the top of the La Liga standings over Real Madrid via goal difference.

It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but the game did give a glimpse of Barcelona’s style under Setien as they dominated possession for virtually the entire match.

And while they needed to work a bit harder to get the win than anticipated, they still proved the La Liga 2020 odds right as Setien picked up all three points in his baptism at the Camp Nou.


Highlights of the game

It took just seven minutes for Barcelona to fire their first shot at the Granada goal. Young Ansu Fati, who was inserted into the starting line-up due to the injury to Luis Suarez, took a pass from Antoine Griezmann on the right wing and got off a right-footed shot which was saved by Granada keeper Rui Silva.

Messi’s attempted rebound was blocked, but it eventually broke to Arturo Vidal, who blasted his shot over the bar.

A few minutes later, Fati was once again on the end of a great chance. But the 17-year-old’s first touch wasn’t the best and he skied his stabbed shot over. Messi was next to take a crack at Granada’s goal via a free-kick, but it went just a few inches over the bar.

Granada finally got their own shot in just before the half-hour mark, although Carlos Fernandez’s effort from outside the box didn’t trouble Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Messi came the closest to breaking the deadlock at the stroke of half-time. The Argentine struck Jordi Alba’s cutback first-time, but to the surprise of everyone at the Camp Nou, he missed the target.

Messi and co. continued to pile on the pressure on the visitors in the second half, though. Messi had a couple of long-range efforts go off target, which included a deflected free-kick, while Ivan Rakitic also had a go from distance.

But Granada very nearly took the lead with a long-distance strike of their own on 66 minutes. Yan Eteki had ter Stegen beaten, but unluckily for him, his shot struck the post.

Granada's German receives a red card during their recent clash against current La Liga champions Barcelona
Granada’s German looks dejected after receiving a red card in their La Liga match against Barcelona

However, Granada’s quest to leave the Camp Nou with at least a point took a massive blow just three minutes later as German Sanchez was sent off for a second yellow card. After seeing how relatively tame Sanchez’s challenge on Messi which earned him that second yellow was, it seemed like a harsh decision.

After that sending off, it was only a matter of time before Barca would find their way past 10-man Granada. And their breakthrough finally came on 76 minutes. A flick-on by Griezmann and an Arturo Vidal backheel set up Messi, who slotted home with his right foot.

That one moment of brilliant teamwork — which was started and ended by Messi — proved to be all Barca needed to hand new manager Quique Setien a debut win at Camp Nou.


Key statistics

While Barca only won  1-0, the final statistics showed a much more dominant display. They controlled a whopping 83 per cent possession as they played Setien’s possession-heavy style. They also got off 18 shots, with six on target, compared to Granada’s five.

Messi, as usual, was responsible for majority of La Liga 2020 highlights in this match. He produced nine of the team’s 18 shots and played a part in the majority of the others.

And while Griezmann didn’t get on the scoresheet, he did have four shots with two on target. The French forward has had a disappointing start to his Barca career, but he will have more opportunities to prosper while playing in the middle while Suarez is out of the line-up.

Meanwhile, Barca’s terrific home form continues. They have won nine of their 10 home league matches this season, with their only draw coming against Real Madrid in the Clasico.


What’s next?

SBOTOP La Liga fans are being treated to an exciting title race this season, and one that could stay tight all the way.

Barcelona’s next assignment takes them to the Mestalla to take on Valencia. Los Che will be eager to bounce back after they suffered a crushing 4-1 defeat to Mallorca over the weekend. However, they will be without captain Dani Parejo, who was sent off for two yellow cards.

As for Granada, they will have another tough assignment next week as they visit Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan. Sevilla are also coming off a loss after they went down 2-1 to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.




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