Why does Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Girona feel like a loss?


Last year's near-unbeaten streak and a home point streak that goes back to 2016 sure does make Barcelona feel invincible at the Camp Nou. Adding Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and the rest of Ernesto Valverde's favorites makes a loss feel practically impossible, particularly to teams not named Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid. Yet, the 2-2 draw with visiting Girona on Sunday has left Culés feeling less than impressed with Ernesto Valverde, Gerard Pique and some of the new recruits this season.

In most cases in football when the what-ifs pile up as they did, the team in question is usually on the losing end. Why did VAR produce a red card when Pere Pons clearly thought that his tackle was the foul on the play and Clement Lenglet's contact was inadvertent? What if Barcelona get to continue the match with all eleven players. Why does Gerard Pique look out of place this season when one-on-one with attackers? What if the rhythm and spacing of newly integrated players isn't precise yet; leaving the backline to fend for themselves in the early part of the season until chemistry is created. Why didn't Valverde put in Samuel Umtiti immediately after the red card? Okay, so not every question has an answer.

With three La Liga matches in a week and Tottenham on the horizon, some rotation was necessary. Culés have to decide whether they will be content with some early season nerves from new players as they get accustomed to the impossible standards of playing at FC Barcelona or they can steadfastly believe that Barcelona's superior talent should always be enough to pull out a victory. The apparent duality in this question is certainly unfair, as the expectations should be somewhere in the middle. Rotating four regular bench players for starters shouldn't corrode a team from the inside out and it's almost an indictment of a player of Arturo Vidal's quality to say that he isn't good enough to start a La Liga match. Valverde could have rotated one member of the midfield and one player from the defense leaving the cohesion of the "Gala XI" intact, but the safe manager decided to be bold for a change with his selection.

The other reason that the draw may feel like a loss is the inherent desire to underestimate an opponent. Any fan will admit that Girona is not a team to be taken lightly prior to a match, but when the favorites can't pull out three points with one less man against their Catalan rivals, alarm bells are rang from Sabadell to Figueres. Passion is perfect, but pride does come before a fall. Leganés sits at the bottom of the La Liga table and will be desperate to pick up some points midweek. Even with Lenglet presumably suspended, more rotation is possible and should be encouraged against a side that will be a challenge. Last year's double felt like a lost season because the team limped their way to the titles after a lack of rotation doomed them to an early Champions League exit. Barcelona have captured the La Liga trophy more than any other team in the last decade because they know precisely how to navigate La Liga. Dropping two points to Girona with heavy rotation and an unlucky red card won't destroy the season, but losing trust in the bench again could be devastating. Everybody just take a breath and let's try to figure out why Valverde didn't put in Umtiti right after the red.