Mentality, dependence, injuries: what comes after the disappointing 0-0 against Getafe?

Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

An utterly disappointing night ends in a goalless draw at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez as Getafe held Barcelona back to a frustrating 0-0, making the league frontrunners drop important points in the title race. With Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Cádiz, Ancelotti’s Blancos whittle down 2 points from the gap that separates them from first place, reducing the Blaugranas’ lead to 11 points.

While it may not seem like a big miss, the fact of a turn in form – as the Catalans started to retrogress on a negative run while Real shows strong signs of redemption after a forgettable run in the last month’s league action – can really affect both teams mentally, demoralize the leader who seemingly loses control of the situation, whereas the other one spies the opportunity in the chaos and turns it to his advantage to catch up, maintaining the trophy in the focus.

Real Madrid are truly those so-called ‘mentality monsters’, knowing no hopeless situations nor lost battles till the whistle is yet to blow. Their phenomenal Champions League run last year was the perfect manifestation of this incredible mental fortitude and confidence in their potency to overcome even in the most difficult situations. Just a raise of eyebrows from the gaffer and 5 minutes of extra time, and the formidable opponent is stomped in the mud.

On the other hand, Barcelona are far from one such phenomenon. Although the league is their specialty rather than cup competitions, a late collapse is not unprecedented for Xavi’s team in the final stages of the campaign. Last year also ended on a bitter note, but thankfully, such major dips weren’t part of our season yet. Against Getafe, the Catalans claimed their second consecutive draw after Girona last weekend, and now are 3 games in a row without scoring a single goal for the first time in the 2022-23 season.

It was a bad night for the Blaugrana, a poor, forceless display from a team destined for much greater things. The lack of creativity and impreciseness was palpable tonight, they were mainly out of ideas and played with plenty of mistakes. Our biggest chance came from a lucky transition, at the end of which we hit the woodwork – twice, through Raphinha who managed to run away after ter Stegen’s long goal kick somehow bounced over a defender, gifting him a glorious chance, and even Baldé failed to convert the rebound against the open goal.

Yet it would be a mistake to say that Barcelona were far away from victory. They had the chance to capitalize on and take the lead but the ball just wouldn’t go in. At the end of the day, 15 shots and 1.46 xG accumulated are not bad numbers, with some further notable opportunities through the same Raphinha and Lewandowski, while only conceding 0.6 xG, but maybe the likes of Munir and Mayoral posed a bigger threat separately.

Injuries, poor pitch conditions – anyhow, there are no excuses for such a disillusive display, full of mistakes and misses, where individuals also failed to step up. Lewandowski struggles to find his goalscoring boots when it’s needed the most, while in the absence of the likes of Pedri and de Jong, the midfield is desperately lacking creative force as neither of Gavi, Roberto, or Kessié fits that criterion sufficiently.

So, again, did Barcelona become too dependent on a few of its key players? Lionel Messi, a clear example of such a dependence on one superstar, happened not too long ago on the same grass of Camp Nou. Culés could have had a taste – really bitter taste – of how that project – or more like lack of project – backfired in the last years. So, is something similar unfolding before our very eyes?

The truth is, even after such a sumptuous transfer window when the team significantly strengthened with superb additions like Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, or Jules Koundé, there are still some irreplaceable figures whose unique genius plays such an essential role in the team’s success as their absence is bound to have a negative impact on the performance, and thus, sooner or later, on the results as well.

Yes, a 20-year-old prodigy is already indispensable from the best Barcelona XI, yes, a deadly French winger is the most terrific difference-maker not just from our roster but the whole league as well. Yes, the brilliance of a Dutch midfield maestro who found his greatest form this season will be missed dearly, and yes, the calm and firm Dane will be a sensible loss from the heart of the defense. And if these are all added up, the simultaneous absence of Pedri, Dembélé, de Jong, and Christensen is bound to have a negative effect on the team.

Barcelona were never too lucky with injuries, but it came again to haunt in a busy season finale. Out of the Copa del Rey with a 4-0 humiliation on home soil, and two demoralizing 0-0s in the league has put the team in a negative spiral, which would be needed to climb out of as soon as possible with crucial games against Atlético Madrid, Real Betis, and Real Sociedad coming up in this last phase of the campaign.

But, learning from the example of the greatest rivals, there are no unclimbable mountains, and there are no irreversible situations. Xavi has to clear up the minds and get the team together because there are still important games to win, but at the same time, panic has no place because the lead is still significant, precisely 11 points. But from now on, it’s time to pick up the form and get no further mistakes.

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