Football Features

Granada 1-1 Barcelona: Dani Alves shines on second debut to prove he is still Mes Que Un Right-Back

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 20:05, 8 January 2022 | Updated: 22:17, 28 November 2022

In a dramatic match in Andalucia, Granada held 10-man Barcelona to a 1-1 draw with Dani Alves shining.

Making his second debut for the club that he left in 2016, Dani Alves became the oldest player to feature in La Liga in Barcelona’s history at the age of 38 years and 247 days old.

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Prior to tonight, Barcelona’s oldest player in La Liga was goalkeeper José Pinto. A goalkeeper. The person behind him? A centre-back. After him? Another goalkeeper. Yet here was Dani Alves playing in the far more dynamic position of right-back despite being almost two months older than Pinto was when he set the record.

Even if you leave out his massive assist to Luuk de Jong, the Brazilian rode out a couple of very rough moments in the early going (he got blitzed 1-v-1 about a minute into the game) to put in a fantastic display both in attack and defence.

Alves was highly used with 74 touches, completed 45/54 passes including 20 in Granada’s half. The Brazilian created a game-high 3 chances, including an assist. He made 3 tackles, won 1/1 aerial duels and won possession for Barcelona a team-high 10 times. It was a phenomenal display from a player who made his first La Liga debut two years before team-mate Gavi was even born.

Watching him, you’d have thought this was still back in 2016 when he last played for Barcelona in La Liga, ironically also at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes. Back then he was playing in a 0-3 win that resulted in Barcelona winning La Liga, a result he helped deliver with an assist.

Tonight was again the same, and while Barcelona failed to pick up the win against a quality home side, that was no surprise given that Barcelona no longer have Leo Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar playing up-front and even their already weaker squad has been made weaker-still by injury absences. Even tonight they lost the superb Eric Garcia to injury late in the first-half, and given how his replacement Clement Lenglet was especially poor on Granada’s equaliser that did end up counting for something.

Alves was quality, however. And just like in 2016 when he assisted Suárez, tonight he assisted Luuk de Jong. A beautifully sculpted cross from the inside right half-space, the kind of ball he’s played so many times in his Barcelona career whether the recipient from Leo Messi (against Granada at the Camp Nou in 2012/13 or Estudiantes in the 2009 Club World Cup final), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in late 2009) or Luuk de Jong at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes in 2021, the result is the same.

De Jong did well with the header, to be fair, but the quality of the delivery made his job relatively easy. The way Alves was able to pick the ball out would have done his spiritual protegé Trent Alexander-Arnold proud. And nothing could be a greater emphasis of the Brazilian’s brilliance that even as the excellent young Englishman is dominating world football in his image, the ageing Alves is still around, still doing the business, still Mes Que Un Right-Back.