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Barça’s Latest Vision Without Messi: A 1-1 Home Draw With Eibar

Barcelona slipped to sixth in LaLiga without its captain.

Lionel Messi could only watch from the Camp Nou stands — dressed like an arctic explorer in 50°F weather — as Barcelona stumbled to a 1-1 draw with an Eibar side that entered the match in 17th place on Tuesday.

It was a night to forget for center back Ronald Araújo, who was at fault for Eibar’s goal, and striker Martin Braithwaite, who missed a penalty in the eighth minute. 

It was hard not to think of Messi’s major interview over the weekend in which he discussed the club’s “crazy” decision to allow Luis Suárez to join Atlético Madrid on a free transfer. That move was motivated by purely financial reasons — removing Suárez from the colossal wage bill — rather than sporting, and that point is painfully emphasized by both the table and the sight of Braithwaite now leading Barça’s formerly illustrious line. 

In the Argentine’s absence, Ronald Koeman paired Sergiño Dest and Antoine Griezmann together on the right flank but that was to the detriment of both. Dest was hooked at halftime for Ousmane Dembélé while Griezmann was replaced by Francisco Trincão on 66 minutes.

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Eibar had surprisingly given about as much as they’d received in the first half, and that foothold in the match became a shock lead in the 57th minute after some splendidly shit play from Araújo.

Kike took the ball off the defender in the center circle before racing away and beating Marc-André ter Stegen.    

It took Barcelona 10 minutes to find an equalizer through Dembélé. The play was created by Junior Firpo, who exchanged a one-two with Trincão before doing the same with Philippe Coutinho to advance down the flank. Junior’s initial cross evaded everyone in the area but Dembélé arrived at the back post to finish it.     

Messi’s absence could’ve played into a wonderful story in the 86th minute after Pedri — the latest heir to the throne — found himself alone near the spot with a deflected ball bounding at him, but the 18-year-old could only lift his first-time effort harmlessly over the bar. 

Barcelona dropped to sixth after 15 matches. The gap to Atlético in first is seven points, but Atlético still maintains two games in hand. The good news for Barcelona is that Messi is slated to return on Sunday against Huesca.  

Barcelona vs. Eibar Full Match Highlights 

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