Struggling Barca frustrated once again


FC Barcelona began life without Ronald Koeman happened with a 1-1 draw against Deportivo Alaves at the Camp Nou on Saturday evening.

Life began without Koeman for Barca, who with interim manager Sergi Barjuan paired Oscar Mingueza and Gavi back in the line-up following the loss against Rayo Vallecano.

A spate of corner-kicks from the Catalans put the visitors under heavy pressure more so after Eric Garcia threatened with a header which goalkeeper Antonio Sivera blocked in the end.

Alaves were thrown a spanner in the works inside 20 minutes after Ximo Navarro pulled up with a muscle strain and saw Martin Aguirregabiria enter the field of play.

Barcelona began to up the ante a lot more following the last phase of the first half and witnessed a powerful shot from range by Sergio Aguero narrowly miss target.

That then was the Argentine stalwart’s last contribution after an on-field assessment in the 41st minute ruled him unfit to carry on and had Philippe Coutinho introduced in his honour.

The Blaugrana bagged the front-foot four minutes in the second half through Memphis Depay who cut inside, dropped to the shoulder to curl into the top corner.

Alaves didn’t take trailing lying down but clawed back immediately from a smart finish by Luis Rioja following loose bit of defending from the Catalans.

Barjuan’s men tried to retake the lead but couldn’t towards the latter minutes this as Sivera produced solid goalkeeping to thwart Depay who had just rattled the frame of the post.

The Blaugrana continued to seek a turn in fortunes following the final exchanges of the match, but instead 1-1 it finished in the city of Catalonia.

Real Madrid moved to the top of LaLiga on Saturday afternoon after recording a 2-1 win over Elche on Saturday afternoon.

A number of notable changes from Real saw Rodrygo and Mariano Diaz start ahead of Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy and Eduardo Camavinga dropped.

Real still took the lead following the midway stage after Vinicius Junior picked up a layoff from Mariano following a turnover in midfield to find the net with relative ease.

The host pushed the equaliser just after the half-hour mark through an overhead kick in the box by Lucas Perez after a telling ball into the area by Johan Mojica.

Another decent chance for the home side came up following the latter stage of the half with Lucas Boye taking aim from outside the area after receiving a pass, but he was denied by Thibaut Courtois.

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Elche were down to ten players midway in the second stanza after Raul Guti got a second yellow card following a strong one-on-one challenge with Toni Kroos.

Vinicius used this situation to good effect with 15 minutes to go as he picked up a delightful pass from Luka Modric to draw goalkeeper Kiko Casilla out of position for a cheeky execution.

Elche got a lifeline in the last two minutes after Pere Milla pounced on sloppy defensive play by Madrid to beat Thibaut Courtois with ease.

However, it was too little too late to stage a comeback and left Los Blancos to yet another win in LaLiga and top spot too.