Messi Saves Setien’s Blushes: What We Learned From FC Barcelona Versus Granada

Messi Saves Setien’s Blushes: What We Learned From FC Barcelona Versus Granada

In new coach Quique Setien’s first game in charge, FC Barcelona beat Granada 1-0 at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening. Here’s what we learned from the tie.

The squad list will now be released on matchday

Unlike during Ernesto Valverde’s tenure, brought to a dramatic halt late on Monday night after a whirlwind four days that followed the Spanish Super Cup semi final loss to Atletico Madrid in Jeddah, squad lists will now be divulged on matchday as opposed to 24 hours before.

As promised, this one had its official release around 13.30 CET, with Riqui Puig making the final cut alongside Arthur and Ter Stegen both returning from injury.

The sacred 4-3-3 will not be tinkered with just yet

Setien commented at his unveiling midweek that “Formations can change. The philosophy can’t.”

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Neither did on his home debut it seemed, however some outlets had the former down as a 3-1-4-2, with Alba on the left wing.

But there were surprises in his choice of players

Ter Stegen slotting back between the sticks, ‘Big Sam’ Umtiti started with Gerard Pique in the centre of the defence while previously wantaway pair Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal occupied the centre of the park.

Just like at the beginning of the season, La Masia wonderkid Ansu Fati benefited from Luis Suarez’s injury-invoked absence.

Not as many as expected came out to see Setien’s men

Tickets reduced to as low as €9 on Wednesday, the Camp Nou was still pretty empty and 30,000 below capacity.

There was a minute’s silence for Sergi Roberto’s mother before kick-off

Maria Rosa passed away on the 28th of December and was honoured by her son’s club.

Ansu Fati had Barça’s best chances in the opening 10 minutes

Played through on goal, the 17-year-old’s shot was parried then blasted over by Arturo Vidal on eight minutes.

A couple of minutes later, he just missed a simple tap-in on Antoine Griezmann’s pass across goal at the back post.

Lionel Messi could not convert his free kick in Messi range

Hacked down approaching the quarter of an hour mark, his attempt went just over.

Griezmann’s defensive efforts are well appreciated by culés

A round of applause for the Frenchman when filling in at right back and terminating a Granada attack following the above mentioned action.

But there wasn’t much of note apart from that in the first half

And Barça therefore went down the tunnel tied at 0-0.

Setien’s half time team talk partly-inspired

Barça had a spring in their step after half time, but the match still dropped into its dull rhythm with an hour down.

Messi had a free kick put out for a corner yet nothing came of it as Barça opened themselves to a counter.

It was on another one that Granada came closest to scoring across the match

Beating Ter Stegen, Eteki hit the woodwork and triggered gasps around the stadium.

Puig’s introduction was heartily-received

Replacing Rakitic in the 72nd minute, the youngster became Setien’s first ever substitute once Granada had been reduced to 10 men.

The youngster started the move and Messi finished it

Stealing the ball on the left wing, Puig started a move of short passes that Messi brought to a positive conclusion with the maiden goal of the Setien era on 77 minutes.

In turn, he prolonged a welcomed record of scoring in every new coach’s debut outing.

Arthur made his return from injury

Coming on for Arturo Vidal six minutes from time, the Brazilian will hope to kick on under the new coach.

Barça are back on top

Real Madrid taking the lead for 28 hours or so, FCB lead on goal difference with a tough trip to Valencia ahead.

Setien’s impact has not been instant

For the most part, this seemed like the same old Valverde outfit devoid of ideas and flow. The 61-year-old’s message will evidently take a while to transmit, and it was only with Messi’s individual brilliance, seen time and again under Valverde, that his blushes were saved against inferior, 10-men mid-table opposition.

That being said, a certain audience will be thrilled by the below statistic.

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