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Deportivo La Coruña
April 12, 2014
• Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes, Granada
Referee: Carlos Delgado Ferreiro
• Attendance: 18024
Y. Brahimi 16'
That's all that we have time for from Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, as Barcelona lose ground in the La Liga title race, courtesy of a narrow 1-0 away defeat at the hands of Alcaraz's Granada. I've been Simon Harrison, and I hope to see you again next time.
Real Madrid still have to play against Almeria tonight and a win for Los Blancos would see them overtake Barca and sit in second place, albeit with a game in hand. Granada remained firm and frustrated, partially thanks to a standout showing from goalkeeper Karnezis!
FULL TIME! BARCELONA HAVE BEEN BEATEN BY GRANADA! It completes a terrible week for the Blaugrana, who go out of the Champions League and lose ground on Atletico! Granada take a step away from the relegation zone, with Brahimi's early strike enough to grab the three points!
90' + 3'
CLEARED! Messi lifts a cross into the box from the free-kick, but it's headed clear! Granada barely manage to clear their lines, before they concede a corner! The referee races over to the dugouts to warn a member of the Barca coaching staff to calm down.
90' + 2'
Barcelona earn themselves a free-kick on the edge of the Granada penalty area, as Iturra slides into the heel of Mascherano. This could be a very important dead ball situation, it's not at a good angle but the visitors can load the box.
90' + 1'
PEDRO! Karnizes is forced into yet another save, with the Greek goalkeeper able to smother the effort without spilling the ball into the path of the waiting Fabregas. There are four minutes of stoppage time with Barcelona still looking for an equaliser!
Normal time is spent for Barcelona, but there should be a good amount of stoppages due to injuries. Murillo is down once again, but the Colombian is determined to try and finish the game. After hobbling around for a few minutes, Murillo is indeed forced to leave the pitch on a stretcher. Mainz replaces him.
EL ARABI! PINTO SAVES! The Moroccan forward has the opportunity to wrap up the points, but the Barca keeper is on hand to make another great save! The rebound is pounced upon by El Arabi once again, but his tame effort is cleared off the line by the covering Mascherano!
MESSI! The Argentine manages to get his head on a looping Pedro cross at the back post, but the delivery is slightly too high! The ball spirals over the crossbar.
Less than five minutes of normal time remaining and Barcelona look to have no idea as to how they are going to surpass the red and white wall. Murillo continues to play despite some discomfort, limping heavily after his collision with Messi.
Good defending from Ilori! The Liverpool loanee is able to scramble the ball away, in the aftermath of Murillo and Messi clashing in the penalty box. The Colombian defender looks to be in some discomfort.
MONTOYA! The right-back overlaps yet again, but can only fire an effort into the awaiting arms of Karnezis! Barcelona are knocking on the door, but Granada are denying them, time and time again!
Another shot from Iniesta, another attempt off target for Barca. The experienced midfielder manages to wriggle free of two challenges, but drags an awful effort wide of the post!
INIESTA! Brilliant work from Neymar, who keeps his balance before picking out his teammate. The Spaniard pivots sharply, taking an unexpected shot, which grazes the far post on its way behind for a goal kick!
NEYMAR! The Brazil international manages to stab the ball past Karnezis, seemingly able to turn home Alexis' cross, but a defender on the line stands firm to deny him! Ilori hoofs the ball away!
Narrowly over ten minutes to play, with Granada still standing firm. Pedro whips in a terrific cross with his left foot, but it evades the leaping body of Messi, who can't get a touch on the delivery from six yards out! The home fans believe they can win now!
Great defending from Nyom! Neymar uses a wonderful change of pace to try and beat his man, but the Granada right-back matches him all of the way. Barcelona then whip in a back post cross, but Foulquier is on hand to hook the delivery away from the awaiting Alexis!
Alex Song has been dropped to centre-half for the away side, with Busquets perhaps sacrificed due to the silly yellow card he picked up for dissent. Plenty of options and quality for Barca, but there's no real cohesion or logical thinking behind the changes.
NEYMAR! The Brazil international meets Song's cross on the volley, but he gets it all wrong! The ball cannons off his shin, sending his effort high and wide - much to the relief of Karnezis. Martino piles on offensive substitutes, Alexis is on the field now too.
Piti takes his leave, earning himself plenty of applause from the home supporters. Coeff, another Udinese-owned player, makes his way onto the turf and he knows exactly what is required of him. He's previously featured in central defence, but the Frenchman will be asked to perform a different task tonight.
Piti goes down injured and Iniesta sportingly puts the ball out of play. He landed awkwardly after challenging aerially with Montoya and Alcaraz readies a substitute. Coeff will be the man to come on for the home side.
Just over twenty minutes are left to play, with Barca continuing to dominate the ball and force Granada deep into their own half. El Arabi is the only man remaining upfield, but the Moroccan is chasing lost causes like a dog chasing paper in the wind.
Iturra makes a run forward into the Barca half, before the Chilean kicks the ball against the lowered arm of Busquets and the official gives a free-kick. It's a harsh call, something which the offender appears to tell the referee in more offensive terms, earning yet another yellow card for the visitors.
Yellow Card Busquets
Yellow Card Messi
This isn't seeming to be Barca's night! The away side are piling on the pressure, forcing Karnezis into some excellent saves! The ball just isn't wanting to make its way into the Granada net, with frustrations rising. Messi has a few choice words to say to the referee, before being booked for dissent.
GOOD SAVE! AND AGAIN! Messi curls a brilliant free-kick over the wall and it appears to be drifting inside the post! Karnezis is at full stretch to beat away Messi's effort with a firm hand! He's back to his feet, the ball is whipped back into the box from the corner and without knowing anything about it, the Greek keeper makes a point blank save from Busquets!
Neymar is weaving in and out, trying to find a gap in the Granada lines, with Recio and Iturra taking chips out of the former Santos forward. He's been interesting to watch tonight and it appears to be Granada's mission to ensure that he can't feel safe to express himself.
Half an hour remains, with Barcelona still appearing to be none the wiser as to how they can tear apart this Granada outfit. The hosts' defence are sitting deep and in numbers, making it incredibly difficult for Barca to play through their lines.
NEYMAR! Granada are defending brilliantly, continuing to pack the penalty box, but Neymar is released by a blocked Fabregas pass! He fires a drive across the face of goal from ten yards out, but it grazes the upright on its way behind for a goal kick!
Barcelona are starting to pile on the pressure, but Foulquier puts in an important block to deny a long-range effort. The away side win a corner, but Brahimi is able to clear the delivery at the near post. Montoya and Neymar continue to be Barca's best players tonight.
FABREGAS! BRILLIANT SAVE! Fabregas is picked out by a clever Neymar header, thrashing a half-volley towards the bottom left hand corner. Karnezis gets down smartly to his right to palm the Spaniard's effort away from danger!
Good clearance from Nyom! Messi is found by a wonderful cross-field ball by Adriano, before the Argentine dances into the box and weaves his way to the byeline. Messi plays a low cross directly across the face of goal, but Nyom was on hand to hoof the delivery behind for a corner - which Karnezis claims.
Good defending from Tiago Ilori yet again, as the Portuguese defender shepherds a Neymar through ball back to Karnezis, denying Messi the chance to equalise. It's all Barca.
Almost a great move from Barca! Messi and Iniesta exchange an elegant one-two on the edge of the penalty area, before the former sees the return ball stolen off his boot. It's not quite happening for Blaugrana, they're looking sloppy.
Granada are again happy to sit deep, allowing Barca to continue to dominate the ball but create nothing. It's a good job for the away side that they're not at Camp Nou, otherwise the atmosphere would be much more toxic.
Important header from Ilori! The Portuguese rises well to nod away a Fabregas cut-back, as Barca start the second half well. Recio is caught late by Montoya, who came across the Granada midfielder after the ball was long gone.
We are back underway in the second half! This game has big implications on both the top and bottom of La Liga, with the current result enough to push Granada five points clear of Real Valladolid - while Barca won't temporarily overtake Atletico at the summit.
Plenty of time left and Barcelona need to pick up the pace if they are to maintain the pressure on Atletico. As it stands, the La Liga title is in their own hands, but only if they leave Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes with three points tonight. They've shown their brilliance in flashes, but they'll need sustained genius to surpass Alcaraz's resilient side.
Pinto has been forced into the better saves of the two goalkeepers and the Blaugrana can count themselves lucky that they're only a goal behind. The changes and injury absentees are clear for the away side, who look very shaky at the back. Busquets in particular can be exploited.
HALF TIME! The home side are ahead through a breakaway goal from Brahimi, after the Algerian was picked out by a wonderful through ball. Barcelona have laboured, with Neymar and Montoya creating the best of the opportunities - but Granada' back five holds firm.
45' + 1'
FRAN RICO! Busquets misjudges a looping aerial ball, before Fran Rico is able to pick up the scraps. He musters up a powerful effort from just inside the penalty area, but Pinto is on hand to keep Barca in this game! Adriano has a half chance up the other end, but the strike is comfortable for Karnezis.
Yellow Card Neymar
Neymar receives a yellow card and he's perhaps lucky that he doesn't get more! The Brazilian kicks out at Nyom through frustration, without trying to play the ball, causing the Cameroonian defender to call for a card. He's a physical character.
FABREGAS! The midfielder is found at the edge of the penalty area, but his first-time strike is blocked well, as Granada stand firm. Martino is looking rather nervously and he has every right to feel that way. Only Neymar and Montoya have threatened to break down the hosts' resistance.
MONTOYA! Again, the right-back overlaps brilliantly to meet a long ball, before attempting an audacious right-footed volley which threatens to cut across Karnezis and tuck itself inside the far post! It hurtles five yards wide, but that was a really good improvised effort.
Less than five minutes before the end of the first half, with the away side struggling to get into gear. Barca are determined to hold onto the ball in advanced areas, despite the clumps of Granada resistance making it different for Martino's men to play through them. Messi is played in behind with a beautiful long ball, but the Argentine is offside.
INIESTA! GREAT WORK FROM NEYMAR! The Brazilian winger cuts in from the left, dancing past Iturra and two more Granada defenders, before teeing up his Albacete-born teammate. Iniesta rattles a low drive towards goal, but it zips wide.
Barcelona are continuing to look a little bit lost for ideas, which might force Martino into some changes early on in the second half. Blaugrana have the likes of Alexis, Xavi and Tello on the bench to contribute to the away side's offensive play.
Good work from Pinto! The second-choice goalkeeper leaps to his left to beat away a long-range strike, before getting back to his feet to deny the lurking El Arabi! The rebound finds its way to Fran Rico, but again Pinto make the stop! The linesman's flag was raised for offside, but that was still excellent stuff.
Neymar returns back to the field, after some extensive treatment on the field. Alcaraz is complaining to the fourth official, believing that the Brazilian made a real meal of that challenge.
Well, it appears that Iturra has shunted into Neymar with his shoulder, though there wasn't a great deal of contact. The Brazilian forward went down, in some pain, as it appeared that the Chilean's shoulder caught the Barca man right in the centre of his chest. Iturra braced himself, nothing more.
We're past the half hour mark, with Barcelona settling back into their dominance. Granada have a line of five defenders marshalling the edge of their penalty area, with Alcaraz's Atletico-inspired gameplan working well thus far. Neymar goes down in some considerable pain, clashing into Iturra.
Good save from Karnezis! He leaps to the left, stopping a curling Neymar strike from nestling inside the top right hand corner! That is a strong hand from the Greek shot-stopper!
FABREGAS! Great block from Ilori! The Portuguese defender steps out brilliantly to prevent a half-volley from the Spain international from rattling into the back of the net! It was a gorgeous pass to find Montoya on the right hand side, who beat Foulquier excellently before finding his teammate.
Absolutely gorgeous pass from Iniesta, who lifts the pass over Tiago Ilori, putting some backspin on it to ensure that it stays in play. Murillo covers to block the attempted cut-back from Fabregas, as Barcelona continue to be frustrated.
INIESTA! The Barca playmaker tries his luck from long-range, but the Greek goalkeeper is more than happy to watch the ball rise over his crossbar. This is an out-of-sorts performance from the Catalan side.
PEDRO! The winger can only muster a weak shot which is straight at Karnezis! Messi slots his teammate in behind the Granada backline, but his first touch lets him down! The pass escapes him somewhat, forcing Pedro to try a shot by sliding at the loose ball.
Fabregas tries to break beyond Nyom, before the Cameroonian is far too aggressive. He chops at the ankle of the former Arsenal midfielder, shoving him to the ground, before looking surprised at the angry reaction of the victim. The referee warns the Granada right-back.
NEYMAR! Montoya whips in a cross from the right hand side, after the youngster was released excellently by Song. The delivery is powerful but well-directed, but Neymar can only divert the ball over the crossbar!
Penalty shout for Granada! El Arabi drives into the penalty area, before getting clipped by Mascherano, but the Moroccan goes down two seconds too late! There was contact, but El Arabi tried to continue on his way towards goal, before throwing himself to the ground dramatically!
Twenty minutes have passed, with Barcelona not in the best of shape. They're shaky, being tested by a intense Granada side, with their defensive frailties being exposed. El Arabi and Brahimi are very pacey, causing plenty of problems for Busquets and Mascherano.
MESSI! Excellent stuff from Neymar, who manages to dig out a wonderful cross from the left hand side, lofting it over the pressuring Nyom and into the path of Messi! The Argentine international meets it with his head, but can only flash his attempt across the face of goal from eight yards!
Assist Fran Rico
Goal Yacine Brahimi
GOOOOOOOOOOAL! BRAHIMI GIVES THE HOME SIDE THE LEAD! It's a beautiful long pass, leaving the Algerian one-on-one in a foot race with Montoya, allowing for the winger to fire beyond Pinto at the near post! Gorgeous pass from Piti!
Half chance for Messi, but Tiago Ilori makes an important header to flick it away from danger! Pedro picks up the scraps, beating Foulquier well, before Murillo stands up to the Spain international. Barcelona are being frustrated thus far.
Barcelona are pressing forward whenever possible, but there isn't any kind of presence from the away side in the opposition penalty area. Messi is the only visiting player to remain central, allowing for a horde of red and white shirts to form a sizeable wall.
MONTOYA! What a chance for the right-back! Adriano spots the run of the young defender, who overlaps on the far side and steals in at the back post! He meets it with his head, but can only nod the ball into the ground, allowing for Karnezis to easily grab it.
Fabregas tries to break beyond Messi and offer an angle inside the penalty area, but the Argentine's attempted pass is awful, allowing for the Granada goalkeeper to collect. The home side then break, but Nyom's cross from the right is easily caught by Pinto.
Granada manage to win themselves a corner, but it's an awful delivery, curling out of play for a goal-kick on the far side. Barcelona have started fairly well, but neither goalkeeper have been tested as of yet. Adriano and Song marshal a break down the right by Piti well.
The first corner of the afternoon is whipped in, but Karnezis claims it with ease. Granada aren't getting out of their half with much regularity, but they're able to hurt teams on the break. Nyom delivers a cross from deep on the right, but Montoya is on hand to clear the ball away from Brahimi.
Neymar shows his class with a couple of neat early touches, but Barca are still yet to test Karnezis. Granada are sitting deep, with the likes of Nyom and Murillo not afraid to really get stuck in. It appears that Alcaraz's men are trying to replicate the intensity and grit which Atletico show.
Beautiful footwork from Messi! The Argentine holds up the ball, with three Granada players closing him down, but he nutmegs the first challenger beautifully! Barca switch the ball to the other flank, to Neymar, who bypasses the towering Nyom with a turn of pace - but the Brazilian's cross isn't met by anyone in a Blaugrana shirt.
Despite what was thought before the game, Piti starts on the right hand side of midfield, with El Arabi continuing to provide intensity up front. He's been dangerous when breaking this season, which is something Barca certainly need to keep an eye on.
Barcelona have the upper hand in the opening stages, as Martino's men keep the ball and stroke it around with confidence. They can expect a real test today, Granada embody fighting spirit and that's something Barca struggled to deal with during their match against Atletico.
We're underway in the first half! Barcelona are in their customary blue and red, while Granada are in their home strip of white and red. It's beautiful weather for football!
With just less than ten minutes to go until kick-off, be sure to stick with us for all of the action, as Barcelona look to continue their title challenge. The race is really hotting up, with Atletico, Barca and Real Madrid all in with a realistic chance of lifting the trophy. Meanwhile, Granada need to focus on staying in the division.
Plenty to prove for Martino's men, who saw themselves dumped out of the Champions League by title contenders Atletico. Today could signal a comeback for the Blaugrana, who still have their eyes set on a league and cup double, with tonight representing an opportunity to pile the pressure on Los Rojiblancos. A rotated side has been named, but there is still plenty of quality available to hurt the hosts.
Barcelona substitutes: Xavi, Alexis, Jordi Alba, Tello, Dani Alves, Sergi Roberto, Oier.
Barcelona starting line-up: Pinto; Montoya, Mascherano, Busquets, Adriano; Fabregas, Song, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.
Granada substitutes: Mainz, Ighalo, Roberto, Coeff, Fatau, Bravo, Isaac.
Granada starting line-up: Karnezis; Nyom, Tiago Ilori, Murillo, Foulquier; Recio, Fran Rico, Iturra; Brahimi, Piti, El Arabi.
TEAM NEWS: Injuries to Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra and Carles Puyol leave Barca with a rather make-shift backline this evening. Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets are set to start at the heart of defence, with Martin Montoya given a start at right-back. Pedro and Neymar are deployed on the flanks, while Xavi is given a rest, allowing for Cesc Fabregas to start in the midfield three. Lionel Messi starts up top.
TEAMS NEWS: Tiago Ilori is preferred to Alexandre Coeff at centre-back, with Dimitri Foulquier starting at left-back in place of the suspended Brayan Angulo. Riki is absent through injury for the home side, leaving Piti to lead the line, with El Arabi being deployed on the flank instead of his normal number nine position. Orestis Karnezis starts only his second La Liga game of the season in between the posts.
Granada's situation, however, couldn't be much different. Lucas Alcaraz's side are looking nervously over their shoulders after three consecutive defeats, sitting merely three points off the relegation zone. The hosts need points and they need them quickly, with not long left until the closing of another league campaign. Three points could see them climb as high as 12th, given a healthy swing in goal difference.
I'm Simon Harrison, and I will be keeping you up to date with all of the proceedings from Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, as Barcelona look to put the pressure back on Atletico Madrid with three points here tonight. A victory will temporarily send the Catalan side back to the summit of La Liga, albeit for a potentially short period of time. With Real Madrid facing off against Almeria later, the away side can't avoid to slip up.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of one of this evening's La Liga clashes, as Barcelona travel to Granada in the wake of their disappointing midweek Champions League exit. The hosts have lost three consecutive games before today's match, which should provide the Blaugrana with the perfect tonic to kick-start the business end of their season, but Tata Martino has rung the changes.
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