New year, same Barcelona…Although the Catalans got the much-needed away win, everyone can agree that it was yet another dull display. After a strong, energetic start, the team got too comfortable in the second half. They looked to defend a 1-0 lead against a relegation battling team rather than controlling and killing the game. Though managerial decisions are to blame for such poor performances, let’s see how the Barça players fared versus Huesca as well.
Dest, Araújo, Lenglet, and Alba;
de Jong, and Pedri;Messi, Braithwaite, and Dembélé.
75’ ｜Dest ↔ Mingueza
75’ ｜Busquets ↔ Pjanić
81’ ｜Braithwaite ↔ Griezmann
ter Stegen (7.5): Didn’t have much to do during the first half. However, as the game got cagey, the German shot-stopper made some vital saves to maintain Barcelona’s lead and a clean sheet.
Araújo & Lenglet (8): A rock-solid performance. The duo only had a few errors, but overall, their quality as a defensive partnership was noticeable.
Dest & Jordi Alba (7): The full-backs were essential in providing attacking penetration and width. Alba’s understanding and quick link-up play with Dembélé were impressive. While Dest struggled with not having direct support on the flanks.
Busquets (7.5): A much better display by Busquets. He was great in recovering balls in the key areas of the pitch and picking passes to start attacking plays.
de Jong (8): The Dutchman scored the match-winning goal, and in some fashion as well. Apart from that defining moment, he was pivotal in changing the tempo and carrying the ball forward during transitions.
Pedri (7.5): The 18-year-old had two fine chances to put the ball into the back of the net, but all that the Spaniard was missing was his shooting boots. But regardless, his exciting connection with Messi, ability to get into good positions, and slick passing is always mesmerizing to watch.
Messi (8.5): Another game and another milestone! This match was Messi’s 500th La Liga appearance and 750th for Barcelona. Once again, the little magician was at the heart of the game, creating chances and setting up de Jong’s goal with a brilliantly weighted cross. He also nearly scored from a thumping free-kick that was cleverly denied.
Braithwaite (6.5): The Dane’s movements in and around the opposition box were decisive in creating chances, opening spaces, and allowing Frenkie to score. However, he needs to be much more clinical and threatening when getting into goal-scoring positions. As he looked to be isolated and uninvolved as well.
Dembélé (8): After Dembélé’s cameo versus Eibar, Barça fans realized his importance to the team’s growth and success. And after this game, that hype and excitement must have only grown. Dembélé was electric on the flanks and unpredictable in the opposition box. With higher decision making quality, greater fitness, and better shooting, he will be unstoppable.
Mingueza, Pjanić, & Griezmann (6.5): The trio had no real impact on the match’s outcome for Barça nor the team’s display vs Huesca.