After the International break, football returned back to Camp Nou as Barcelona took on Espanyol in an early kickoff on new year’s eve, The Catalan derby had everything but a winner thanks to a 2nd half Espanyol penalty which nullified Barcelona’s 1st half strike. Finally the Barcelona vs Espanyol game ended with a Match Report of 1-1 scorecard.
First Half Begins
The game started alright as FC Barcelona dominated possession and controlled the game early on, Barcelona drew first blood in the 7th minute as Raphinha’s corner kick reached Christensen in a sloppy way which he then headed towards Marcos Alonso who forced it into the Espanyol net. After the goal, Barcelona continued to control the game and created many more chances but lacked that finishing touch. The starting midfield trio of Pedri, Gavi and Frenkie De Jong nullified the threat of Espanyol’s midfield in the 1st half and the Barcelona defence kept Espanyol at bay.
Referee’s Disastrous Performance
Referee Mateu Lahoz who officiated the world cup game between Argentina and Netherlands in which he was openly criticized by players and coaches officiated this derby and he continued his controversial decisions early on in the game as well, issuing 5 yellow cards in a span of 30 minutes in the 1st half. Despite all these theatrics, the 1st half ended without any additional time and Barcelona players headed into the tunnel with a slender 1-0 lead.
Mateu Lahoz gave out 14 bookings, three red cards and overturned one of those sendings off during Barcelona vs. Espanyol.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 31, 2022
He was the referee who gave out 17 yellow cards during Argentina vs. Netherlands at the World Cup.
At least he’s consistent 😅 pic.twitter.com/t3oS5AbW05
2nd Half Starts
In the 2nd Half, the action continued and Barcelona controlled the game with their passing but still lacked that finishing touch to extend the lead, In the 52nd minute young Gavi who was suffering from some back pain subbed off for Busquests and later in the game double substitution by Xavi introduced Ferran Torres and Ousmane Dembele into the game. Dembele tried to take on Espanyol defenders and create chances along the flanks with his pace which made Espanyol defenders uneasy and introduced some much more pace into the game. However, the slender lead of Barcelona was threatened when Marcos Alonso’s clumsy challenge awarded a penalty for Espanyol. Joselu scored the penalty to put Espanyol level with Blaugrana and the game was on.
An already chaotic game turned into a nightmare for Barca when Mateu Lahoz showed a 2nd yellow card for Jordi Alba who was arguing with the referee for a foul committed near the Barcelona goal. Mateu Lahoz ended the game with 15 bookings and 3 red cards ( one red car was later overturned by VAR). Despite going down to 10 men both teams fought till the final whistle to grab that vital 2nd goal. Espanyol keeper A. Fernandez produced a double save in the final minutes of regular time to keep out Christensen and Lewandowski. Nine minutes of additional time was added and Lewandowski almost stole the win with a flick which was agonizingly close to the goal post.
It was evident that Barcelona lacked the killer instinct in front of the goal today. Lewandowski could not convert his chances and Ansu Fati was underwhelming at Left-wing today. Raphinha tried some passes and shots but was unsuccessful as well. A limited number of training sessions after the world cup and players lacking that match sharpness cost Barcelona that vital 3 points, controversial refereeing by Mateu Lahoz affected Barcelona as well. After dropping 2 points in the derby, Barca is level with Real Madrid on points and sits on the top of Laliga just by better Goal Difference. After an eventful year, Barcelona ends 2022 with a draw and heads into the new year still on Top of Laliga .
Let’s see what awaits FC Barcelona in the new year, Visca Barca and Happy New Year culers.
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