Lewandowski resolved a cumbersome interwar match with a parlor game, too long and rough for a sensitive team like Barça. The azulgrana suffered from the national team break, a league truce that interrupted their good form, and they never lost sight of Tuesday’s match against Inter. The context facilitated the rotations and line-up of Piqué and Jordi Alba, illustrious veterans who face matches that are overbearing or that get in the way like Mallorca’s.
Predrag Rajkovic, Jaume Costa (Braian Cufré, min. 76), Valjent, Raíllo, Pablo Maffeo, Copete, Ruiz de Galarreta (Lago Junior, min. 84), Iddrisu Baba, Antonio Sánchez (Dani, min. 66), Lee Kang -In and Muriqi
Ter Stegen, Piqué, Alba (Sergi Roberto, min. 79), Alex Balde, A. Christensen, Busquets, Gavi, Kessié Franck (Pedri, min. 66), Ansu Fati (Raphinha, min. 66), Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembélé (Ferrán Torres, min. 79)
goals 0-1 min. 19: Lewandowski.
Referee Jesus Gil Manzano
Yellow cards A. Christensen (min. 38), Piqué (min. 39), Jaume Costa (min. 41), Kessié Franck (min. 44), Busquets (min. 73) and Valjent (min. 82)
Aguirre was missing Lewandowski to crown his plan and achieve a better result before the excitement of the fans of what is now called the Visit stadium. Fate took pity at the last minute on a conformist, well-to-do and reserved Barcelona, more aware of their goal than Rajkovic’s. The areas were decisive again and Lewandowski’s goal weighed as much as Ter Stegen’s interventions, which broke his unbeaten record, a pediment since he took that goal from Isak in Anoeta.
It is not easy to enter the field of Mallorca. The team covers up very well with two lines of up to ten players, barely allowing space, defending strongly and attacking selectively and stealthily with its two full-backs to find the inside game of Kang In Lee and the power of Muriqi. Aguirre’s boys fight to force a corner, which is celebrated as a goal chance, or to finish the play and avoid the opponent’s counterattack, especially if he likes to run as often happens lately at Barça. The azulgrana have a hard time defending strategy plays and their possession football lacks speed and finesse when Pedri isn’t playing.
The game barely had life and there was no more noise than that of the stands when Lewandowski appeared. The striker received from Ansu Fati in the right apex of Mallorca. The players waited for one more pass, an inconsequential touch or another rejection from the centre-backs until the Pole stopped, cut Valjent and aimed at Rajkovic’s left post. A goal out of nowhere put Barça ahead. There was no air or space on Mallorca’s pitch and, however, Lewandowski asserted himself as a soloist: not only is he the final point for Barça but he becomes the origin of the goal when the game mechanics do not work in Xavi’s team.
The 0-1 did not calm the Barcelona fans but encouraged Mallorca. The rojillos took the ball and intimidated an opponent who did not know how to cool down the fight, was inaccurate with the ball and excessively vulnerable in defense, especially on the right flank, poorly defended by Balde and Kessie. Balde is a fast left-back who was lined up on the right wing due to the absences of Koundé, Araujo and Bellerín. The hole seems too big for an apprentice who had no help in Kessie. The midfielder was lost while Christensen and Piqué charged in a minute with a card against the permeability of Barça’s midfield.
Mallorca did not score because he was not successful in a couple of frank shots, especially one by Jaume Costa, who came face to face with Ter Stegen. The goalkeeper’s response was superb to the joy of his team, intemperate and unhinged, too exposed against an intense and brave Mallorca.
The script of the contest did not change even with the break in between: Aguirre’s team not only pressed very high but also shot more and better than Barça. The azulgranas became spectators of the appointment to the Visit. They didn’t make a move, they walked down the field and, without control of the clash, they lost the ball to a nervous Xavi.
Although the scoreboard was in danger in Mallorca, the Barça coach had Tuesday’s start at the San Siro in mind. The change wheel only begins by indicating the database that records the minutes that correspond to each player based on their physical parameters if there is no need to force as was the case if the score was 0-1. The watchword is to protect an exquisite footballer like Pedri, too exploited last season, and be careful with wingers of the stature of Raphinha. Both left with less than half an hour to play, willing to control rather than close a game without rhythm and too open, dangerous for Barça and inconsequential again for Ansu Fati.
They didn’t fix the situation either and the game ended in Ter Stegen’s area. The fear of making a mistake prevailed more than the ambition to seek the final goal in the reluctant Barça. The crowd chewed on the goal until the very last play when a run-in and cross from Kang-In Lee narrowly missed the goal or Muriqi’s foot.
No one improved Lewandowski’s goal play, the only one who was able to find a loophole in the armor arranged by Vasco Aguirre. Barça’s victory is assured if the center forward scores, who already has 12 goals, nine in the League after scoring in the last six games —the opening match with Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou ended 0-0—.
There is no rest for Lewandowski, forced to also play filler games, those that the big teams demand to win, as was the case with Mallorca. Barcelona referred to Lewandowski’s goal and the result so as not to have to give explanations about a poor footballing night in Mallorca. Although it was their worst game, Barça will be able to continue boasting about Lewandowski.
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