Barca struggled to break down a stubborn Getafe side and it took a mistake for them to open the scoring. Andreas Christensen intercepted a Damian Suarez pass and fed Raphinha, who squared for Pedri to convert his fifth goal of the season.
1. Barca get job done after long stretch in Saudi Arabia and Africa
This was not a vintage Barca performance, but it was an important three points in the grand scheme of the LaLiga title race. Not every display will be as exhilarating as last weekend’s Supercopa win over Real Madrid and perhaps that, in some way, explains why Xavi Hernandez’s side were not at their best against Getafe.
Five days in Saudi Arabia culminated last Sunday with a 3-1 Clasico win and the first trophy of Barcelona‘s Xavi era. Barca did not have long to celebrate, though, because on Thursday, via a plane and a helicopter, they were off to the north African coast for a Copa del Rey game in the autonomous Spanish city of Ceuta, winning 5-0 to progress to the quarterfinal.
They were back home on Sunday but the travelling took its toll on some. Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong picked up minor knocks and were not risked against Getafe, while top scorer Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres were both suspended.
Given all the context, the points can take precedence over the performance as they moved six clear of Madrid, who travel to Athletic Bilbao later on Sunday.
2. Christensen’s growing importance to Barca on display
January has served to showcase the increasing importance of Andreas Christensen to this Barca side. The Danish defender, a free transfer signing from Chelsea, was colossal in the win over Atletico Madrid before the Supercopa and again impressed against Madrid last weekend.
Against Getafe, it was his interception and quick pass which created the goal. It’s his ability with the ball as much as his defending which has helped him establish himself in the middle of the back four despite competition from Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia.
Barca, therefore, will hope a knock picked up in the first half is not serious. Xavi was certainly taking no risks. Aware of Christensen’s value, he quickly opted to take him off. With Real Sociedad to come in the Copa on Wednesday and Manchester United around the corner in the Europa League, there are bigger challenges ahead.
3. Getafe’s relegation worries mount
Getafe ruffled some feathers among the Camp Nou crowd with their physical style, but they left with zero points and remain one of a clutch of sides with relegation worries. Only goal difference keeps them out of the bottom three at the moment, with Real Valladolid, Celta Vigo and Getafe all tied on 17 points.
The problem for Getafe is they now have a tough run of games coming up. After losing at Camp Nou, they face Real Betis, Atletico Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Valencia and Villarreal in their next five matches. With the exception of 13th-placed Valencia — who have two games in hand on most of the league — those teams are all in the top nine.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ side do have some things going for them. Once again with the exception of Valencia, they have the tightest defence in the bottom half of the table. They also have goals in Mayoral and Enes Unal — even if they didn’t take their chances against Barca.
Best and worst performers
Best: Ousmane Dembele, Barcelona
Didn’t add an assist or goal to his numbers for the season, but was one of the players who brought fans to their feet in an unremarkable game with his direct running with the ball.
Best: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona
A 13th clean sheet of the season and a couple of big saves to ensure Barca took all three points.
Best: Jules Kounde, Barcelona
Injuries and the World Cup have disrupted his start to life at Barca, but there are signs that he is finding his feet now.
Worst: Ansu Fati, Barcelona
Has rediscovered his goal-scoring touch in January but missed several chances to add to his tally in the absence of Lewandowski
Worst: Borja Mayoral, Getafe
Wasted a one-on-one with Ter Stegen after Pedri’s poor back pass.
Worst: Damian Suarez, Getafe
Stray pass led to the opening goal and allowed Raphinha to get in behind him to set it up.
Highlights and notable moments
For all of Getafe’s efforts to defend and keep Barcelona at bay, the breakthrough usually comes for Barca — and it did on Sunday in the 35th minute.
It was 20-year-old Pedri who got on the end of it, putting Barcelona up 1-0.
Pedri opens up the scoring against Getafe 👏 pic.twitter.com/niiVxiXzbF
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 22, 2023
After the match: What the managers and players said
Barca manager Xavi Hernandez: I don’t we played well, we were off our game. We did not attack well. We did defend well. It is hard to attack against such a low block. We have to improve. But it was a really important win. We kept a clean sheet. We were good without the ball, but we didn’t create enough. You could feel the mental tiredness from the Supercopa. It’s three points without playing well.
Getafe manager Quique Sanchez Flores: Against these teams, you have to play mini-games of 15 minutes to try and get points. We played trying to rob the ball and attack the space. They are in good form but we tried to surprise them and we were in the game. (Angry about the goal?) Yes, because we were punished against Espanyol and Sevilla as well for mistakes.
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
Pedri scored his fourth league goal this season, which is the 20-year-old’s most in a top-flight season.
Pedri has scored in consecutive games (2 goals) for the first time in all competitions (98 games played).
Barcelona: Barca will host Real Sociedad in the quarterfinal round of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, Jan. 25 (watch live on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET). Then, Barcelona return to league play when they head to Girona on Saturday, Jan. 28 (watch live on ESPN+ at 10:15 a.m. ET).
Getafe: Azulones will host Real Betis in LaLiga action on Saturday, Jan. 28 (watch live on ESPN+ at 3p.m. ET).