A lackluster Barcelona side failed to make an impact as Villanovense held them to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday at the Estadio Romero Cuerda in a Copa del Rey fixture.
Marc Bartra and Sandro Ramirez were La Blaugrana’s only survivors for the Copa del Rey last-32 first leg, with Douglas, Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu coming into defence, Sergi Samper, Gerard Gumbau and Wilfrid Kaptoum in midfield and Adriano and Munir El Haddadi on the flanks up top.
However, there was no Alex Grimaldo at left-back, amid reports he is set to leave the club after recent remarks about his relationship with Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.
Villanovense, meanwhile, came into the match 11th after 10 games in Segunda B Group four, four points behind a playoff place, but were rewarded an early tie against the holders due to the latter’s Club World Cup commitments in December.
Barca’s young side lacked chemistry as Villanovense played like their lives depended on it, and the minnows should have taken the lead towards the end of the first half as Javi Sanchez diverted a corner onto Masip’s crossbar.
Nonetheless, Munir ought to have done better when he blazed a shot from an earlier corner into orbit, despite having the goal at his mercy.
Barcelona saw more of the Villanovense box in the second half, but Sandro – in particular – did his first-team cause no help, having selfishly wasted a good shooting position after he broke into space just outside the hosts’ D, before Jose Fuentes made an important save down low to keep out his angled drive.
Damningly for Enrique’s attack, Bartra was responsible for Barca’s best chance, yet his bullet header from a corner in the dying embers was expertly tipped over by the custodian, while he gifted Angel Pajuelo the opportunity to slide the Segunda B side ahead, only for Masip to stand in the midfielder’s way.
The second leg at Camp Nou is scheduled for December 1 with everything still to play for.