It was the first match after the Christmas Holidays and the opposition was Eibar against whom Barcelona find the going easier. But his time around, the Catalans were halted and dropped two points. The frustrating result did not satisfy the superstar Lionel Messi, who was watching the match from the stands – he left by shaking his head. It was sad to watch.

Surely, there is nothing to celebrate after losing points against a side Barcelona had won 11 of their previous 12 previous top-flight games against.

The start was good by Barcelona – neat passing and overlapping of the full-backs dominated the proceedings.

The Blaugrana had a big chance just seven minutes in when Ronald Araujo was brought down in the box, but Martin Braithwaite missed the penalty. Braithwaite seemingly redeemed himself 20 minutes later after finishing an excellent cross from Junior Firpo, but the goal was called off after VAR spotted an offside by Braithwaite.

Antoine Griezmann then struck wide from outside the penalty area as Barca went in at the interval having had just a solitary shot on target.

Ronald Koeman made a bold substitution at halftime as Ousmane Dembélé replaced Sergino Dest on the right side of the formation, and the Frenchman was on fire to start the second half, bring his speed and creativity and wreaking havoc on the left with shots, smart runs, and dangerous crosses.

Dembele and Miralem Pjanic flashed wide after the break before the former was denied by Marko Dmitrovic after being played clean through.

Kike picked Araujo’s pocket inside the Barca half and coolly slotted past Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his fifth goal of the campaign.

Dembele belatedly got the better of Dmitrovic in the 67th minute, firing home at the back post after Junior’s cross flashed across the face of goal – it restored parity but nothing more.

Koeman made two more changes with Philippe Coutinho and Francisco Trincao coming on, and the two immediately created a beautiful move down the left that found Firpo all alone and the full-back’s cross gave Dembele a tap-in and Barça were back in business with 25 minutes to go.

Barca continued to put on the pressure but as time went on the creativity became desperation and it was hard to find clear-cut chances against a well-organized Eibar defence.

Trincao clipped narrowly wide of Dmitrovic’s right-hand post in stoppage time as Barca missed the opportunity to make up ground on Atleti ahead of the leaders’ clash with Getafe.

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