Madrid, Jan 20 : A Leo Messi goal 15 minutes from time gave Quique Setien a win in his first game as coach of FC Barcelona as Barca beat Granada 1-0 in the Camp Nou Stadium.
Barca looked in control against the rival that limited their options in attack, but posed few problems going forward. Setien had a couple of surprises in his first starting 11 with Samuel Umtiti starting in central defense, while Ansu Fati was given the chance in attack in the place of Luis Suarez, who will be out for around four months after a knee operation.
Meanwhile Arturo Vidal started alongside Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic in midfield for the suspended Frenkie de Jong. Setien's teams are known for their possession football and Barca enjoyed 80 percent of the ball in the first half, on Sunday although they struggled to create clear cut chances against a well-organized Granada. Fati poked the ball over early on, while Leo Messi sent a free kick over the bar after 15 minutes.
Jordi Alba was again one of Barca's main attacking outlets and Fati should have done better from his left wing cross in the 21st minute, while Messi fired into the side netting following another pass from the left back on the stroke of halftime. However, for all of their control of the ball, chances were few and far between before the break. The second half followed the same script with Barca struggling to break down their hardworking rivals and the best chance fell to Granada in the 65th minute when Eteki Yan Brice hit the post for Granada from outside of the area.
Things were made easier for Barca in the 69th minute when Granada defender German Sanchez, was sent off after seeing a slightly harsh second yellow card. Setien reacted by bringing young midfielder Riqui Puig on for Rakitic and Puig played a role in the start of the move that ended with Vidal back-heeling for Messi to open the scoring in the 76th minute. Messi then drew a flying save from Rui Silva with 12 minutes left to play, while Griezmann fired into the side netting as Barca saw out the closing minutes with few problems. The win keeps them top of the league, but fans expecting a revolution from Setien might have to wait a little longer. (UNI-XINHUA)