BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona compounded its exit from the Champions League by losing 1-0 at Granada on Saturday, letting Real Madrid move ahead into second place in the Spanish league with a 4-0 win over Almeria.
Barcelona's stumble ensured the same Atletico Madrid that ousted it from Europe's top-tier competition would maintain the league lead with five more rounds to go, as it was level on points with Madrid but ahead on goal difference before it visited Getafe on Sunday.
Granada's Yacine Brahimi scored what proved to be the winner in the 16th minute and goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis made saves to deny Lionel Messi and Neymar amid a plethora of scoring chances that Barcelona failed to finish.
Barcelona has four more days to regroup from back-to-back defeats before it plays Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final in Valencia.
"It's a step back," said Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, whose late shot trickled by the post with Granada bunkered down in its area.
"It hurts more given how few games are left. Sometimes it's difficult to explain it when you lose. We did everything but score. We controlled everything else, but just couldn't finish our chances. Sometimes when the team is emitting strange vibes, this happens."
With his centerbacks Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra and Carles Puyol all injured, Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino shifted Sergio Busquets into his back line and started Alex Song in midfield.
It didn't take long for the shuffling to backfire, when Song lost the ball and Granada sprang a counterattack. Fran Rico quickly played Brahimi through for the forward to ride Martin Montoya's mark before he shot beyond goalkeeper Jose Pinto.
"I don't think the lineup changes were decisive in a match that Barcelona should have won," Martino said. "Normally Barcelona wins this game by four or five goals. After two losses, the squad feels that something important is slipping away, but on Wednesday we must try and win the final (of the Copa)."
"I can't feel good after these results, but we will keep fighting for the league. We can't confuse sadness with giving up."