FC Barcelona dominated Malaga at La Rosaleda this evening, but the combination of a poor playing surface and an ultra-tight Andalusian defence meant that not only did they score no goals, but also failed to produce many real chances. Time and time again they pushed forward in search of a way to break the deadlock, but the best they could achieve was a series of half-chances and near misses.
With Dani Alves being rested for this game, and Luis Enrique opting to hand Douglas his first start in a Barça shirt, the game got off to a slow start. Malaga drew first blood with a 7th minute strike from Amrabat, which Bravo did well to save, while It took Barça 14 minutes to get their first proper shot on goal, a Messi free-kick. Moments later Pedro fired an effort wide, and came close again after 26, but Malaga keeper Kameni was having a surprisingly quiet evening as Barça struggled to conjure up ideas.
The Cameroonian wasn’t truly called upon until the 32nd minute to block Messi from an angle, and with three minutes of the half to go, the Argentinian looked certain to score, but failed to connect with a Jordi Alves cross.
There was little change after the break. Barça still had three quarters of the possession, but rarely managed to find much to do with it. With under half an hour to go, Luis Enrique opted for a fresh attack by sending on Munir and Sandro in the places of Pedro and Neymar. Shortly after, debutant Douglas was withdrawn and replaced by his Brazilian compatriot Adriano at right-back.
And there was occasionally a bit more to Malaga than merely sitting back and defending. A powerful drive from Rosales after 65 minutes only just skimmed wide, and then Claudio Bravo turned a free kick onto his own post after 72.
Barça’s final onslaught in search of a goal that would keep their one hundred per cent record intact included a fine header from Piqué that produced Kameni’s best save of the night and a couple of chances for Bartra, but try as they did, the goal just wouldn’t come: And so a frustrating night in Malaga ended as it began, 0-0. FC Barcelona have now survived for an impressive five Liga games without conceding a goal, but for the first time this season, failed to find the net for themselves either.