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The earlier than usual midweek kick-off didn’t appear to affect Barça in the early stages of the match, the hosts allowed the ball as much as they wished with Granada employing a five-man defence and sitting back from the first whistle.
With 15 minutes played, the pattern of the game had already developed. Neither goalkeeper had been worked hard to that point, though the Catalans are likely to have been the happier of the two given that any positive forward play was coming from the blaugranes. The Andalusians appeared perfectly content with playing a counter-attacking game.
On 18, a low shot on target from Antoine Griezmann tested Aarón, and five minutes later his wonderful one-two with Leo Messi saw the No.10 give Barça a vital lead. He was a whisker away from his second on 35, Aarón tipping the shot around the post and then saving well from Umtiti’s header from the subsequent corner.
The visitors managed a couple of half chances before the break and showed that they could still present a threat if given the time and space. Equally the five-man back line had to stay disciplined because as soon as Barça won the ball in midfield they were looking to attack at every opportunity.
Within a minute of the second-half starting, Griezmann again went close after being well set up by Ilaix Moriba. Roberto Soldado soon broke into the area but decided to pass when well placed, ensuring Granada kept the hosts on their toes.
Another magnificent move on 52 almost ended with a spectacular volleyed goal from Sergi Roberto, and Eteki’s fine tackle stopped Frenkie de Jong from pulling the trigger shortly after. As the hour approached, the hosts were still trying to pick the lock despite Granada’s midfield four now playing close to their back five, making chances almost impossible to execute for Ronald Koeman’s side.
A swift break from Granada on 62 brought the equaliser through Darwin Machís, and that only succeeded in seeing the visitors playing even more defensively than before.
With 18 to play, Ousmane Dembélé and Pedri replaced Oscar Mingueza and Ilaix, Barça changing their system and widening the focal point of attack. Gerard Piqué came agonisingly close to giving the hosts the lead just a minute before Jorge Molina stooped to put Granada ahead.
The remainder of the game was played in the Andalusian’s half but Barça were unable to breach a solid defence.
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