Lionel Messi saved Barcelona from another embarrassing result by scoring the decisive goal in a 1-0 win over the humble Levante, while Real Sociedad came back to the top of La Liga on Sunday.
Messi struck 14 minutes from the end of a lackluster Barca display at Camp Nou, which won’t do much to allay fans’ fears after their 3-0 pounding at the hands of Juventus in midweek.
Ronald Koeman’s side are still a long way off pace in the title race, nine points behind Sociedad who reclaimed first place despite a 1-1 draw with Eibar.
Barcelona, however, have two matches in progress on the Basque outfit.
Atletico are tied with 26 points with Sociedad and also have two games in hand while Real Madrid are only three points behind the leaders after playing one less after beating local rivals 2- 0 Saturday.
Villarreal are four points from the lead in fourth after a 1-1 draw at Real Betis, who are one point behind Barca in ninth.
“The team is working well, they gave their all,” said Koeman.
“We still lack self-confidence in our game, but we had a lot of chances, and I have nothing to say about the attitude of the players in this game. ”
Barca managed to force several saves from Aitor Fernandez, with the Levante keeper doing particularly well to fend off a scathing shot from Martin Braithwaite in the 16th minute and Antoine Griezmann’s header five minutes later.
However, the best chance of the opening period went to Jorge de Frutos in the 12th minute, with the Spaniard sort of shooting straight at Marc-André ter Stegen after the ball snapped nicely for him just in front of goal .
– Messi saves the day –
Barca continued to dominate possession in the second half, but if anything looked less threatening with Fernandez being called in largely to action for shots that were hit directly at him.
However, with Levante looking more at ease than a side of his level at Camp Nou, Messi saved his side with a clinical post finish after collecting the pass from Frenkie de Jong.
It was hardly the kind of display to honor Sergio Busquets’ 593rd appearance for the club, which puts him in fourth place all-time in games played for Barca alongside Carles Puyol.
However, the three points are a boost ahead of Sociedad’s visit on Wednesday, which is then followed by another home clash with Valencia on Saturday.
Previously, Ander Barrenetxea had given Real Sociedad the lead in San Sebastián with a hard-hitting strike in the 20th minute, but Sergi Enrich had returned home 25 minutes from time to send his side 10th with 15 points.
Sociedad would have had a bigger gap between them and Atletico had Igor Zubeldia’s 80th-minute tap-in not been ruled out by VAR for an extremely tight offside.
Sunday’s draw was Sociedad’s sixth in as many games in all competitions, and came after another 1-1 draw at Napoli on Thursday, which saw them advance to the last 32 Europa League games. .
Granada won 1-0 at Elche in Sunday’s other game, a victory that keeps them one point ahead of Barcelona.
© 2020 AFP