It has been a week since Barcelona’s remarkable comeback in the Champions League Round of 16 against PSG. Barcelona needed a five goal margin in the second leg, after losing 0-4, to reach the quarter finals, and produced a spirited display, beating PSG 6-1 at Camp Nou. The referee Deniz Aytekin gave away a lot of decisions favouring the Blaugrana, and is facing demotion from the UEFA elite panel.
After their triumph, many pundits felt that this new-found momentum will give Barcelona the edge over Real Madrid in the league. And it looked a real possibility that the Blancos might be in for a tough fight, as they suffered a slump in form. But a 2-1 loss for Barcelona to Deportivo la Coruna has again handed Madrid the initiative in this title race.
Barcelona’s 2-1 loss to Deportivo is no less than a shock. Just a week after the biggest comeback in the champions league history, they lost to a side struggling at the wrong end of the table. Interestingly, Deportivo has not beaten Barcelona in their last 14 outings, a streak stretching back to April, 2008. Now, the biggest talking point is whether their victory over PSG was really a fluke?
Barcelona were better than PSG at the Camp Nou. They pressed higher, kept PSG in their own area for most of the first half and scored two scrappy goals. But the second half was a different story. The two penalties given to Barcelona were very debatable. But Mascherano’s studs-up challenge from behind on Di Maria in the box was totally ignored by the referee. It would have resulted in a red card for the Argentine, and the score was 3-1 at that point. Neymar was just booked by the referee for a clearly intentional stamp on Meunier. Neymar eventually went on to score two goals and provide the assist for the winner.
If the fact that the refereeing in that match was below par, is ignored. It is hard to believe that the same team, barring Neymar, went on to lose to a number 17 side in the league. PSG were outclassed on the night. But surely they didn’t deserve to concede six goals, and score just one.