Spanish champions Barcelona began their La Liga title defence with a frustrating 0-0 draw at Getafe on Sunday, with both sides reduced to 10 men in a bad-tempered clash.
Barca winger Raphinha was sent off for an elbow in the first half and Getafe’s Jaime Mata was dismissed early in the second for two yellow cards.
Xavi Hernandez earned a red card himself for touchline complaints as his Barcelona side battled to find a late winner but, like last season, they started their domestic campaign with a goalless draw.
The coach handed debuts to summer signings Ilkay Gundogan and Oriol Romeu as Barcelona began their campaign with one of the most uncomfortable away trips of the season.
The Catalans had failed to score in their three previous visits to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez and Getafe got into Barcelona’s faces from the start.
Xavi complained about the length of the grass at Getafe last season, saying it ruined the spectacle of the match, and this time it was repeated fouls which disrupted the champions’ rhythm.
“It’s normal that people don’t want to watch football, this has barely been a game,” Xavi told reporters.
“A point for us is not sufficient but this was a very difficult game for us to play.”
Damian Suarez winded former Manchester City midfielder Gundogan with a barge in the chest, among other challenges which crossed the line between fair and foul.
Raphinha was targeted on multiple occasions too and eventually he snapped, flinging an elbow into Gaston Alvarez’s head, earning a red card.
The Brazilian had been Barcelona’s brightest player, drawing two saves from Getafe goalkeeper David Soria, but left his team in the lurch.
After Ousmane Dembele’s departure this week to Paris Saint-Germain, the onus was on Raphinha to step up and show his quality on the right flank after a mixed first season.
“It’s obvious that it’s a clear red card and it can’t happen,” Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen told DAZN.
“We played well, we didn’t want the match to stop so much, and tried to play as quickly as possible, but it was very difficult because of the opponents.”
Xavi made an attacking change at half-time, throwing on winger Ez Abde for Andreas Christensen, with Frenkie de Jong dropping into central defence.
Getafe’s Mata levelled the playing field before the hour mark when he tripped the rampaging Ronald Araujo to earn a second booking.
Xavi brought on 16-year-old starlet Lamine Yamal and Ansu Fati to try and snatch a late winner and they quickly combined, but the latter fired over.
After 10 minutes of stoppage time had been added on in the first half, nine further minutes were signalled in the second, with 16 actually played after a VAR review for an Araujo penalty claim.
The Uruguayan was felled in the box but no penalty was awarded because of a Gavi handball in the build-up.
Xavi was also unimpressed with the long periods of stoppage time as a solution to time wasting.
“This is also shameful, in my opinion,” he said.
“With ‘effective time’ (stopping the clock) in football you put a stop to this. I’ve said it a thousand times already – we’re making fools of ourselves.”
Barcelona could not find a breakthrough and will be playing catch-up after rivals Real Madrid’s convincing 2-0 win at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” said Getafe goalkeeper Soria.
“They have a lot of attacking talent and we had just enough players – it told in the second half that they had a lot more on the bench.”
Elsewhere Real Betis snatched a late win at Villarreal through Willian Jose’s stoppage-time strike.
Ayoze Perez put the visitors ahead after fine work by Luis Henrique, but Jorge Cuenca pulled the Yellow Submarine level before Jose’s late winner.
Betis’s Isco started a La Liga match for the first time since November 2022, having left Sevilla by mutual consent in December and joined their rivals this summer, and was bright despite his time out of the game.
Last season’s Copa del Rey runners-up Osasuna won 2-0 at Celta Vigo, inflicting defeat on the Galicians in veteran manager Rafa Benitez’s first game at the helm.
POST AUTHOR: AFP