Messi, back from injury, powerless to stop Barça crisis

Espanyol celebrate a European point but lie in domestic relegation zone, while Márquez has one hand on 6th MotoGP title

Leo Messi puts his face in his hands as Barcelona fall to a 0-2 defeat away to Granada (by Reuters/Marcelo Del Pozo)
Leo Messi puts his face in his hands as Barcelona fall to a 0-2 defeat away to Granada (by Reuters/Marcelo Del Pozo) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

September 23, 2019 02:37 PM

Crisis at FC Barcelona

With just one league away win since March, and no victories in their last eight matches away from Camp Nou, the crisis at Barcelona is giving fans much cause for concern. 

A 0-2 loss to newly promoted Granada on Saturday night ensured the Catalan club’s worst start to a season in a quarter of a century. Not even Lionel Messi’s first appearance in La Liga this season could help Ernesto Valverde’s men unlock the determined home defense. 

Barça’s performance totally lacked fluidity and clarity of ideas, as the forwards looked unfamiliar with one another. By the full time whistle, all of Messi, Suarez, Griezmann, and Ansu Fati were on the pitch, but they looked hopeless to the task of pulling their side out of a difficult situation. 

Messi, who made his return from injury in the second half of Barcelona’s 0-0 draw away to Borussia Dortmund in the middle of last week to open their Champions League campaign, looked far from match-fit, and the signs point to the Argentine needing more rehabilitation time before he can produce his regular magic on the pitch once more. 

Ernesto Valverde will have the opportunity to bounce back after this loss very quickly, as a midweek round of league fixtures are scheduled for this week. Villarreal, one point and one position ahead of the Catalans in the table, are the visitors to Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

Victory in women’s clásico 

Barcelona’s women’s team are experiencing a totally contrasting start to their season, as the victories and good results continue to arrive. Over the weekend they came from behind to ultimately defeat defending league champions Atletico Madrid 6-1, putting them top of the table.

Atleti, one of the strongest teams in the league, are generally considered the ‘clásico’ opponents with Barcelona in women’s football, as they are one of the most successful teams in the league from Madrid, while Real Madrid won’t have a women’s team until next year, after purchasing a newly promoted top division club during the summer, CD Tacón. 

Atletico have won the last three women’s titles in Spain, and Barça’s huge win will go down as a statement of intent for Lluis Cortés’ troops to bring the title back to Catalonia this year. 

Return to Europe for Espanyol

It’s been a mixed week for the blue and white half of the city of Barcelona, as Espanyol celebrated their first goal and first point won in European competition proper since 2007 this week with a 1-1 draw at home with Ferencváros.

However, their domestic form still leaves much to be desired, as the slide remain in the relegation zone after another defeat this weekend, this time at home to Real Sociedad. The week of results mean Espanyol have only won one game all season since the Europa League qualifying rounds. 

The women’s team offer periquito fans little hope elsewhere, as a third defeat from three games leaves them at the foot of the table, behind Real Betis, who have the same record of three losses, by two-goal difference.

Márquez, one hand on 6th MotoGP title

Marc Márquez cruised to victory in the Aragon Grand Prix, and is within touching distance of the sixth MotoGP title of his career. The Honda rider raced to a near-perfect standard all weekend, beginning the race from pole position and storming to a one-second lead ahead of the chasing pack by the end of his first lap.

The Thailand Grand Prix in two weeks’ time will give the Catalan star his first opportunity of the season to pick up the MotoGP crown once again, as the win in Aragon helped him open up a 98-point advantage in the standings over Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.

So far this year, Márquez has managed to finish either first or second in every single race he’s completed. The only Grand Prix he has not finished on the podium this season was in the American Grand Prix in Austin, where the Honda racer did not finish the race after a crash. 

When asked about the comparison between this year and his 2014 campaign, where Márquez posted more points on the final leaderboard than any other in his career, he said this year he feels “more complete.” 

“In 2014 I felt invincible, but this year I feel much more flexible, more concentrated and more adaptable to situations.”

Barça fall to Madrid in Super Cup

The domestic basketball season is back, and silverware is already being battled for and decided. After their Lliga Catalana success the previous week, FC Barcelona fell to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup by a score of 89-79. 

It was clear through the contest that, while they were able to contribute at times to their team’s flow, the new signings that are expected to make this Barça team significantly stronger will need more time to bed into their new surroundings and become comfortable with each other’s movements. 

A title and serious injury for Girona women’s basketball

Victory in the women’s basketball Super Cup went some way to healing the wounds of Girona this week, who lifted the title with an 82-80 win over Santander based Perfumerías Avenida.

Earlier in the week, Girona had to come to terms with the news of the serious injury to guard Nuria Martínez, who will be sidelined for 5-6 months due to a torn hamstring muscle which required surgery. 

Martínez averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 assists per game last season, and was instrumental in Girona winning their second women’s basketball title.