Barça still in pursuit of consistency

Barcelona, Feb 14 (EFE).- A last-gasp goal from Luuk de Jong salvaged Barcelona in a 2-2 draw against Espanyol as Xavi Hernandez’s team failed to build on the convincing 4-2 win over Atletico Madrid.

This is the third time that Barcelona stumbled after a big performance since Xavi took to the helm.

The Catalan club fell to Real Betis 1-0 after defeating Villarreal 3-1 and was handed a 3-2 loss by Athletic Bilbao at the Copa del Rey, having competed toe to toe with Real Madrid in the Super Cup.

Thus, Barcelona have been unable to win three consecutive LaLiga games having squandered a chance in November before they were held by Espanyol on Sunday in what seemed to be an easy job for the visitors.

Barcelona stormed into a good start, taking the lead in the second minute thanks to Pedri and even had a chance to double the lead from Adama Traore, but they conceded the equalizer before the first-half whistle.

Sergi Darder’s goal as well as a disallowed tally from Barcelona’s Gavi in the early goings of the second half proved to be a turning point as Espanyol struck again shortly after.

Xavi, then, shuffled his cards to avoid the defeat sending on Ousmane Dembélé, who was not decisive as was his fellow substitute, De Jong, who scored a few minutes after taking the field.

De Jong found the back of the net for the fourth time in the last five games he has taken part in, this time off a cross from Traore, who confirmed his speedy adaptation to the team.

Barça noted the absence of Dani Alves, who serves a two-match suspension for being sent off against Atletico Madrid.

Xavi has to find a proper substitute for the Brazilian, who will not compete at the Europa League since he is not registered, as he becomes the fourth Barça player in midfield when attacking.

The contribution of Sergiño Dest, his substitute, in the buildup of the game was not up to par and he was not forceful in defense.

The American, however, is expected to start again against Napoli, another tough test for Xavi’s team, which is still looking for lost consistency. EFE


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