Deportivo Alaves had Jota sent off for a second bookable offence just after the hour mark, and were leading by 1-0 until Antoine Griezmann stepped up to score the equalizer and saved the face of Barcelona.

Visitors Barca, who had lost their prior two league matches, fell behind in the first half after a goalkeeping blunder by Neto allowed Luis Rioja to open the scoring. Neto, upon receiving a backpass from Pique, made a poor first touch under pressure from Rioja, who then snatched the ball from him and tapped it home into an empty net for the opener.

Alaves then maintained their solidity to diminish any threats posed by Barcelona. Barcelona grew increasingly desperate and threw caution to the wind. They pushed bodies forward, deploying almost the entire team in the opposition half, and kept Alaves firmly on the back foot by unleashing an avalanche of attacks.

But Alaves kept on organizing their defense very well and leaving no gaps for the visitors to exploit.

Alaves, too, had the whole team back, with each player firmly marking someone to deny them a clear chance. And it worked, as Barcelona were forced to play long passes inside the area, which were easily dealt with by the defenders.

When none of that worked, the last pillar of the Alaves defense – goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco- came to deny them, who had a night to remember.

Even though his team was resilient when the visitors were in utter desperation, there were a few occasions where Pacheco’s interventions were needed, and the Spaniard duly stepped up to the plate, stopping, punching, and parrying one shot after another.

In one key moment, right after Griezmann’s equalizer, he denied Messi with sensational diving save after the Argentine somehow maneuvered his way inside the area and lashed a shot towards the far post.

The 28-year-old was quick to react and got the ball out of play in a phenomenal move. He then cleared Dest’s effort from Messi’s free-kick in the final minute of normal time.

Pacheco didn’t get a clean sheet nor could he rescue a famous victory for his side, but his stupendous performance earned him the accolades.

Lionel Messi played well and even his frustrations were evident, which could have earned him a suspension, but we live in an era where very few are lucky enough to receive protection from all.

He was at the heart of every action, though the one thing missing from his game was a goal – an open-play goal.

All the four goals that the Argentine has managed in the 2020-21 campaign so far have come from the penalty spot.

These days – no penalty, no party for Messi!

Barcelona are off to their worst start in a La Liga campaign since 2002-03 following their 1-1 draw with Alaves.

Ronald Koeman has seen his side pick up just eight points from six games so far with Barca currently 12th in La Liga.


Despite winning consecutive Champions League matches, Barcelona have failed to win their past four games in Spain’s top-flight with their last victory coming on October 1 against Celta Vigo.

Facebook Comments