There are a few things that this game made blindingly obvious.
1) Despite their rather tenuous position in the table right now, Granada are very unlikely to end up going down.
2) Messi steps up when he’s needed with consistency that’s quite alarming to all opposition.
3) This season is likely to be Sanchez’s last with Barcelona.
In a lot of ways, this game really had everything – thrill, the threat of a massive upset, great keeping, and of course, the opportunity for every commentator ever to say, “If you don’t finish your chances…” in a dire sort of voice.
It was exciting, at any rate. Both sides were fielding line-ups they haven’t had much practice with. Granada were very active in the winter transfer window, and had several players that they signed in January on the pitch. Roura, on the other hand, decided that a Milan-Sevilla-Madrid-Madrid run ahead of Barcelona meant that rotation was in order, and rest several key players.
Barcelona are, as a rule, very good, so they ended up looking poor by comparison. Granada, on the other hand, were downright awful in the first half of the season, so there was really nowhere to go but up after all the movement in and out of the team in the January transfer window. The result was a pretty even game.
Many Barcelona fans will point to the officiating and say that it shouldn’t have been close at all, and that Granada’s goal looked suspiciously offside and that Barca had at least one goal incorrectly ruled offside when it wasn’t. Those fans probably have a point.
However, breaking the closeness of the scoreline down to simple poor officiating would be unfair to Granada. They played well. They were disciplined defensively, brave going forward, and worked well as a team, especially considering that some of their most influential players haven’t been on the team for more than a month. They didn’t have much possession, but when they got the ball, they created dangerous situations, including the goal that opened the scoring.
Barcelona fought back, though, as Barcelona – this season, at least – have tended to do. It’s been said many times before throughout the season, but it bears repeating: this is a game that last year, Barcelona would have lost. This year, they won it. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win, and one that Barcelona fought back for.
Granada will probably be quite disappointed that they couldn’t topple both La Liga giants in the space of a few weeks, but I suspect they’ll also be feeling very encouraged by the close scoreline and their strong performance. They’re pulling away from the drop zone, their new signings are integrating into the team well, and they’re giving their home fans a great show. At this point, survival is looking increasingly likely, and if next season doesn’t have such a rocky start, maybe Europa will start to be something to shoot for.
There are two ways to look at Barcelona’s win. You can either say, “If they struggle like this against Granada, how will they do against Milan?” or “A win like this shows strength and determination, which is the right mindset going into the fixtures they have ahead of them.” I tend more toward the second point of view, especially since several of Barcelona’s starting XI against Granada are not first choice starters. This game showed me that the team’s attitude is where it needs to be, which is a lot more important than getting a blowout against Granada. Anyone can have a bad day. It’s a lot harder to change your attitude.