Barcelona stuggle to disappointing draw with Lionel Messi on the bench

Barcelona failed to win in the league for the first time this season as they were frustrated in a 0-0 draw with Osasuna at El Sadar.

Barca came in to the game hoping to make it 14 consecutive league wins, but failed to take their chances against a relegation-threatened side.

Osasuna managing to keep a clean sheet means that it is the first league game that Barcelona have failed to score in 63 games.

The likes of Neymar and Andreas Iniesta failed to break down a rear-guard Osasuna back-line.

The hosts ran out 1-0 winners at Malaga before the international break and coach Javi Garcia named a very similar team, with Roberto Torres replacing Emiliano Armenteros as the only alteration. Meanwhile, Gerardo Martino made five changes to his team from the win over Real Valladolid as Carles Puyol made his first league start since March, but Lionel Messi had to contend with a place on the bench following a hamstring injury.

The Catalan club definitely missed his firepower in a disappointing first half. Their passing lacked edge and the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas, who impressed in Barca’s last game without Messi, couldn’t replicate a similar performance against a stead-fast Osasuna defence.

The only chance of the first half took 44 minutes to come, but Martino will be furious that his side were not in front. Fabregas’ corner was met by Marc Bartra’s free header from eight yards out, but the defender sent the ball flying over the crossbar from a position in which he really should have scored.

Carles Puyol was making his first Barcelona start for seven but it was problems at the other end of the field that cost Gerardo Martinez’s side. 

In the second half, the title challengers managed to create more chances, but lacked the cutting edge to ground out a win. Fabregas should have done much better when he raced on to Xavi’s good pass in the 58th minute, but his lobbed effort was weak and comfortable saved by Asier Riesgo.

Just a few minutes later, the same combination unlocked the Osasuna defence again, but Fabregas was the man who wasted another good opportunity. Xavi’s slide-rule pass allowed the former Arsenal midfielder to fire at goal from 15 yards, but he fired well over. It was a great chance, and it proved to be Barca’s final one as they dropped two points in Osasuna.

Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)

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