Ronald Koeman explained Granada’s early goal and the limited resources at his disposal meant Barcelona could not play ‘tiki-taka’ as they battled to a draw on Monday.
In their first match since going down 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Barca narrowly avoided suffering another home defeat.
Domingos Duarte headed a second-minute opener for Granada, chasing their second straight Camp Nou win after 24 straight losses, and the Blaugrana had to wait until the final seconds of normal time to respond.
Ronald Araujo got the leveller with a header of his own, coming from one of 54 Barca crosses.
Since the 2005-06 season, the Catalan side have only once registered more crosses in a match, sending in 55 in a goalless draw against Malaga in November 2016.
Sergino Dest and Memphis Depay each delivered 16 crosses, a tally topped only by Dani Alves (on five occasions) and Neymar (in the Malaga game) among Barca players in that period.
In the same time span, no other Barca player can match Araujo’s five headed attempts in a league game.
It was a far cry from the passing patterns Pep Guardiola’s team used to produce, but under-fire coach Koeman, who refused to discuss his future after the match, felt Barca had little other option in pursuit of an equaliser.
“Our bad start made it very difficult for us,” Koeman said. “It was a play with two or three previous actions that we have not played well, then the cross and the goal have arrived.
“You face a team that is going to waste time from minute one, that is going to defend more and without spaces. It is all more difficult.
“The space was on the wings, not inside. Our basic system is 4-3-3 and that’s how we played in the first half, then with [Philippe] Coutinho behind and Memphis on the left.
“But the Barca of today is not the Barca of eight years ago. It’s not the game we want, but we lack players for one-on-one situations. Coutinho and [Yusuf] Demir go more inside.
“With Ansu [Fati] and [Ousmane] Dembele we would have [these players], but they are not here and we have to look for other ways to attack, such as playing more on the outside and crossing.
“If you see the team sheet, what else should be done? Play ‘tiki-taka’ if there is no space?
“We didn’t want to play like this at the start of the game, but it wasn’t easy to play short and we don’t have players with speed on the wing.
“There was no room on the inside, but there was room on the outside for Dest and Memphis to cross on the left and [Oscar] Mingueza [nine crosses off the bench] on the right.
“In the end, we were able to draw at a time when we were good at squeezing the opponent. But we have lost two points.”
Despite outlining their deficiencies, Koeman praised his players, adding: “We must highlight the attitude.
“People leave unhappy because we don’t win, but not because of the attitude. I want to highlight the energy we put into winning a point. We have had dedication and the support of our people, who have encouraged us and to whom I thank.
“We deserved the draw and with a bit of luck we were able to win. And that also has to be seen. You have to highlight the ambition to want to win.”