Real Madrid had lost two points as they played out a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid in the Madrid Derby, but Barcelona somehow got one better of them as they lost all three points against an inspired Malaga side.
Star Forward Neymar was sent off for Barcelona as they now depend on another slip up from their arch rivals if they are to win the title from here on.
Here are 5 things we learned from the Barcelona-Malaga game:
1) Jeremy Mathieu is always prone to an error :
Malaga 2-0 Barcelona player ratings – Neymar and Jeremy Mathieu flops as Barca miss opportunity to go top of La Liga https://t.co/Hj2yjn2LDq
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) April 8, 2017
With Gerard Pique suspended and Luis Enrique deciding to play Javier Mascherano at right back, Jeremy Mathieu and Samuel Umtiti started at Centre back for Barcelona, but the move backfired as Mathieu, in trying to play Sandro offside, failed and Sandro smashed the ball into the back of the net against his former club. Mathieu has been out with injuries for the majority of the season, and is fourth in the pecking order behind Pique, Umtiti and Mascherano, and this howler did not help his cause. He looks set for a move away from the club this summer.
2) Barcelona struggle when Busquets looks out of sorts :
I feel disheartened to see another Busquets masterclass being thrown into the shadows by Leo wanking folks.
Acknowledge. Appreciate. Preach. pic.twitter.com/8IoZGcXQJx
— FC Piquélona (@rafatsubayyil) April 5, 2017
A year or so ago, Luis Enrique termed Sergio Busquets as the best midfielder in the world, and that there was no one who could match his entirely different abilities. Barcelona were on fire at that time, and that was because their midfield anchor was at his best.
Busquets has been a vital cog in this Barcelona team for quite some time now and has helped them to numerous trophies. His ball winning abilities and the ability to come up with an assist out of nowhere have been matched by very few across the globe. Busquets has been out of sorts this season, and Barcelona have struggled as a result. The Spaniard struggled against Malaga,and the Catalans paid the price as they succommed to a loss.
3) Sandro benefits from Malaga transfer :
July 2016: Barcelona release Sandro Ramirez, Malaga sign him.
April 2017: Sandro scores the goal that potentially wins Real Madrid La Liga pic.twitter.com/ArQvVC4RxP
— Juan Direction (@JuanDirection58) April 8, 2017
Sandro Ramirez left Barcelona for Malaga this summer as he struggled for game time and was firmly behind in the pecking order. With the MSN in full flow, it was always going to be difficult for him to cement his place in the side, virtually impossible. But he has benefited from his move to Malaga and has scored 9 goals for them this season. He scored one against his former side as well and surprisingly celebrated as well. No love lost there.
4) Malaga secure a huge morale boosting win :
Malaga have been languishing in the bottom half of the table and have struggled all season. But they would have been delighted with their victory against the Catalan Giants as it gives them a huge morale boost. Winning against a club of the stature of Barcelona is always a huge thing for any team and Malaga did exactly that, as a result dented their title hopes severely as well. No team would have been more grateful than Real Madrid.
5) Neymar should become more mature :
Saint Neymar: 2009 – 2017. 134 yellows & 7 reds. Pepe d killer 2009 -2017 124 yellow cards & 6 reds pic.twitter.com/l0gd7Ev6GG
— Rmadrid4pigin (@Rmadrid4pigin) April 9, 2017
The Brazilian is only 25, a World class player, and a potential Ballon' Dor winner. He is great in every regard, but one thing he desperately needs to improve is discipline, and surely needs to get more mature. Neymar was shown two yellow cards in the Malaga game, one of which was for tying his show laces in front of the ball when a free kick was to be taken. He also sarcastically applauded the referee after he was sent off, and is in danger of missing the Classico if he is banned for 2 or 3 matches. Neymar is hugely important to Barcelona and the Catalans suffer without him, so he needs to take up more responsibilty and improve on his discipline.