Granada shocks Barcelona as Valverde's future looks bleak

Goals from Ramon Azeez and Alvaro Vadillo earned promoted Granada a famous 2-0 win at home to La Liga champion Barcelona.

Granada players celebrate after scoring against Barcelona on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

Granada shocked Barcelona 2-0 in La Liga to increase the pressure on Ernesto Valverde, who has overseen the Blaugrana's worst start to the season since 1994-95.

Diego Martinez's side had won its past two league games and led in the second minute, Ramon Azeez heading in at the back post, and they made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

Arturo Vidal was penalised for handball after a VAR check and Alvaro Vadillo sent Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way to leave Barca, who brought Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati on at half-time, with a mountain to climb.

Barca is winless in seven away games in all competitions and struggling in seventh, while promoted Granada is the shock league leader after its third straight clean sheet.

READ| Zidane unfazed by Mourinho speculation

Junior Firpo was making his first La Liga start for Barcelona but he made two errors as Granada took the lead with 63 seconds on the clock.

Antonio Puertas profited on Junior's twin mistakes to race clear and deliver a low cross that ballooned over Ter Stegen via a deflection off Gerard Pique for Azeez to nod home.

Luis Suarez hit a free-kick into the wall as Barca tried to strike back, but it ended the first half without recording a shot on target.

Suarez: Barcelona's a worrying result

Luis Suarez accepted Barcelona's LaLiga loss was a worrying result, calling for the Blaugrana to buck up its ideas quickly.

"It is a defeat that worries and hurts, and we have to look at many things," he said after the game.

"We must be self-critical in order to improve.

"After going behind in the first two minutes it was difficult for us.

"We have to be more forceful to win the title. We must be self-critical."

Suarez, though, said it is inappropriate to consider Barca's slow start an extension of its underwhelming end to the 2018-19 campaign.

"It is not necessary to mix with the ones from the last year," he added.

"We must analyse the first games that we played as visitors, that obviously worries us with the lack of effectiveness."

After Messi came on at half-time, Barca almost gifted Granada a second. Ter Stegen carelessly dropped a cross, the goalkeeper recovering in time to beat Roberto Soldado to the loose ball.

Granada doubled its lead in the 66th minute, Arturo Vidal conceding a penalty shortly after replacing Ivan Rakitic, with Vadillo beating Ter Stegen from the spot.

Despite Messi and Fati adding zest to its attack, Barca still could not find a way through, the captain forcing Rui Silva into his first save with eight minutes to play.

What does it mean? Problems mount for Valverde

Barca has taken a single point from three away league games this season, while it drew a blank at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek. Messi's lack of fitness has exposed the weaknesses in Barca's squad and questions will continue to be asked of Valverde.

ALSO READ| Simeone ignoring reports Griezmann negotiated Barca commission while at Atletico

Granada's remarkable start to the season means it tops the league ahead of Sevilla – which has a game against Real Madrid in hand – on goal difference, but Barca is only three points off the summit despite its issues both at the back and in attack.

Herrera sets tone for battling performance

Granada inevitably had far less of the ball than Barca, but Yangel Herrera's energetic midfield display helped keep the champion at bay. He recorded four tackles, four interceptions and two blocks - as many as anyone on the pitch for all three defensive metrics before his 83rd-minute withdrawal.

Perez out of his depth

Were it not for injuries to Messi and Ousmane Dembele, Carles Perez would surely be nowhere near the Barca squad.

Another limp performance from the 21-year-old indicated why Barca was so keen to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain this year as, Messi apart, the lack of stardust in attack is clear. Perez was withdrawn at half-time, with 16-year-old Fati, Barca's future, sent on in his place, although the similarly anonymous Antoine Griezmann could have also made way.

What's next?

Barca has a quick turnaround with Villarreal visiting Camp Nou on Tuesday. Granada goes to Real Valladolid on the same day.

  Dugout videos