On Tuesday, a 10-man Barcelona defeated Osasuna 2-1 in a thrilling comeback. Osasuna’s early goal and Robert Lewandowski’s red card appeared to have cornered Barcelona, and Gerard Pique’s red card in his final match for his club only served to add insult to injury. Despite being down a man, Barcelona regained control in the second half and earned all three points with goals from Pedri and Rafinha.
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It is fair to argue that this was possibly Barcelona’s biggest victory of the current campaign.
They were content to settle for a point in Tuesday’s match at Osasuna, but Raphinha’s late header surprisingly gave them three. A day after lamenting his lack of goals since signing from Leeds United, substitute center-back Frenkie de Jong found the Brazilian’s run in the 85th minute, and he delivered a wonderful finish to score just his second goal of the season.
It had not been promising for Barca an hour ago. They got off to a terrible start, Sergio Busquets handled a corner kick poorly, and they eventually gave up. Then Robert Lewandowski was stupid, and they were too easily upset by decisions that they perceived to be made against them by the referee.
However, despite all of that, they still managed to depart Pamplona with a victory that guarantees they will be in first place in LaLiga during the World Cup break after Real Madrid lost to Rayo Vallecano on Monday.
Pedri, who is only 19 years old but already appears poised to take over the midfield from Busquets, who was horribly out of breath in this situation, scored the equalizer. His sloppy play resulted in the corner from which Osasuna scored; he subsequently lost the goal scorer, David Garcia; and, just a few seconds later, he passed the ball once more, allowing Chimy Avila to hit the side netting.
At the half, Barca was able to gather itself and secure what might turn out to be a crucial three points for the remainder of the season.
Gerard Pique did not make his 617th appearance for Barcelona. He was scheduled to play in this match as his last before retiring, but he was ejected at halftime for arguing with the referee, Jesus Gil Manzano. He was fired for the eleventh time in his Barca career.
Manzano’s first-half performance infuriated Pique, who was sitting on the bench as a potential substitution. Barca was also upset that Garcia’s opening goal had not been called back for an Unai Garcia infraction on Marcos Alonso.
The referee claimed that Pique complained after the interval horn blew into the tunnel, where the defender was given a red card.
Although they should have fewer complaints about Lewandowski’s two yellow cards, notably the second one, which was for a high challenge initiated with his elbow, Barca was also disappointed that he was dismissed early in the first half. It was the first firing of his career, and only his second overall, since 2013. Fortunately, it didn’t cost Barca anything, though Poland might be happy he got one extra hour off before the World Cup.
Even though it won’t be much of a consolation tonight, the fact that this loss felt so demoralizing shows how strong Osasuna has been this year. They briefly jumped to third in LaLiga after taking the lead. They were sixth instead, but there is little question that they should be competing for the European spots in the coming year.
Under coach Jagoba Arrasate, Pamplona continues to be a challenging destination for teams. They were the first team to defeat Madrid this season, and they will believe that, with the numerical advantage, they should have done the same against Barca.
They were unable to capitalize on that lead, though. They had opportunities, outshooting Barca 15 to 9, and up until the final minute it appeared as though they might steal a point. However, Ante Budimir’s late header fell wide, ending any dreams. With Barcelona’s shaky past few seasons, what will happen to them in the future?