The game: 0-1
KO by Frankfurt last Thursday (2-3), Barça had a chance to regain their strength this Monday night against Cadiz, 18th in La Liga. But the end in the quarter-finals of the Europa League left its mark. Still stunned, the Blaugranas were surprised by their opponent after returning from the dressing room (0-1) and didn’t take advantage of Sevilla’s setback to secure their second place in the league. Due to his performance, Cádiz comes out of the red zone and climbs to 16th place.
Xavi’s men largely dominate the game (75% possession, 18 to 6 shots). But these numbers say nothing about the lack of motivation they showed in the last thirty meters. Aside from a shot by Ousmane Dembélé (39′), Jeremias Ledesma wasn’t worried. At the other end, Cadiz had the best opportunity on the counterattack, but Lucas Perez missed the goal (27th).
The center forward took his sights early in the second period. After a save from Marc-André Ter Stegen, he cooled down the Camp Nou from close range (48th). Not glossed over, the German did the job to keep hopes of a return alive, making several crucial saves in the face of contrasting transitions. But his counterpart always answered him. Ledesma ensured that the Catalan uprising attempts were wiped out. The keeper saved two attempts from Dembélé (67′ and 68′) and then a header from Luuk de Jong (78′).
The surprise setback ends a 15-game unbeaten run in La Liga. Barça hadn’t lost in the league since December 4 and a 1-0 defeat to Betis. Everything remains to be done to secure second place.
The player: flawless Ledesma
The Cádiz bouncer is not always academic in his interventions but very much in the performance of his team. Little asked for in the first half, he warmed up and made five saves after the break. Especially with that crucial reflex to Aubameyang’s volley. He was also invaluable in the air when Barça besieged his penalty area.
Fact: Dembélé, the only detonator
Collectively apathetic and unimaginative, the Frenchman was the only one able to create differences with the ball at his feet. The winger has been in top form for two months and continued his momentum on Monday night. Right, left or from the axis, Dembélé has multiplied the taking of dangerous initiatives. Unfortunately, he stumbled over Ledesma or lacked precision in the finish. But without him, the Blaugrana’s attacking production would have starved.