Barcelona’s winning streak ends with shock home loss to Malaga
Barcelona was once again left frustrated by Malaga as the Liga title challenger slumped to a 1-0 home defeat and saw an 11-match winning run come to a halt.
Malaga claimed a 0-0 draw after successfully nullifying Lionel Messi and Neymar when the two sides met at La Rosaleda in September, and the team was just as effective again, producing a determined display to claim a first Camp Nou victory since 1999.
Luis Suarez, who missed their last meeting, was unable to inspire a change in Barca’s fortunes this time around, as the team’s usually lethal front line struggled after Juanmi capitalized on an early Dani Alves error to break the deadlock.
Barcelona unsurprisingly dictated the tempo of the match, though Malaga’s hard-working defense held firm in admirable fashion, while Javi Gracia’s side posed a significant threat on the break.
Rafinha and Andres Iniesta saw Barca’s best chances go begging in the first half, while opportunities were even rarer after the break, as Malaga proved impenetrable.
Malaga ultimately scraped over the finish line to claim a famous and surprising win despite Barca’s intense late pressure, sealing a result that will raise smiles at title rivals Real Madrid.
Despite resting few key players in the lead up to Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League trip to Manchester City, Barca trailed after just seven minutes, proving to be its own worst enemy.
Dani Alves sold Claudio Bravo short with a poor back-pass and Juanmi pounced, skipping beyond the goalkeeper before prodding home, doing little to help the Brazilian’s bid for a new contract.
Barca almost hit back just two minutes later, but Weligton, who infamously clashed with Messi in this season’s reverse fixture, crucially blocked Rafinha’s powerful goal-bound effort.
Though the home side continued to dominate, Malaga’s dogged defending ensured that clear-cut opportunities were something of a rarity.
The visiting side proved particularly dangerous on the counterattack, nearly adding to the lead twice in quick succession just after the half-hour mark.
Barca should have restored parity five minutes before the interval, though Iniesta could only send his tame header straight at Carlos Kameni.
The home side’s monopolization of the ball continued into the second half without much to show for its efforts, as the impressive Weligton and Roberto Rosales remained solid at the back.
Neymar and Messi attempted to force the issue, driving forward with intent and forcing the Malaga defense back, but generally the final ball fell flat, as opportunities eluded Luis Enrique’s men.
Substitute Pedro sent the club’s best chance into the side netting, leaving Luis Enrique with much to ponder ahead of a trip to face the Premier League champion.
More from Goal.com: