Another Barcelona-esque performance when the team dominated the first half but lost the whole gripping over the game in the second half. But in the end, Barcelona got yet another victory to pressurize Real Madrid for the coveted La Liga. This game had its ups and downs but a lot of points are to be covered in this Barcelona Players ratings and review article.
Barcelona Players ratings and reviews:
Marc Andre Ter Stegen(7.4/10):
The German had a relatively easy game going in the first half but in the second half, he was an absolute monster to deny Valladolid to score past him. Especially that body stretch saves to deny Ünal’s header. He got his deserved clean sheet at the end of the game but it was a tensed second half for Ter Stegen.
The tactical adjustment made by Setien today got the best out of Semedo. Roberto was shifted as third CB on the right so that Semedo can stay wide and higher on the pitch for the majority of the time. This way Semedo was able to showcase his offensive game and actually made a lot of overlapping run and cutbacks to create chances.
Deserved man of the match tonight for Barcelona. His brave second-half performance was the reason Barcelona didn’t lose. Valladolid constantly made passes in behind the huge space left by the defensive line but Pique somehow trackback on time despite his lack of pace. He was constantly threatened with crosses but he managed to get the ball out of play with his timed headers.
Not the game Barcelona fans were expecting from the silent warrior. In fact, he was the complete opposite of the performances he was putting up recently. His mistimed header actually fell right into the opposition striker’s feet but it wasn’t penalized because the striker tripped. Due to this, just 10 min after the start of the second half, Lenglet was subbed out for Ronald Araujo.
One minor positive which I noticed was that he was regularly pushing ahead and provided some good amount of diagonal and vertical passes to Griezmann and Puig.
Roberto’s versatility is the reason why Setien can make changes in his structure. Today as a center back, Roberto solved Setien’s one of the key issues by playing as an extra defender, so that other players can stay high for a long time. When Roberto was shifted as LCM, he was making his signature runs and almost created a chance for Barcelona to score twice and finish the game.
The low rating wasn’t his fault. Barcelona’s game-plan was to overload the wide right and their major concentration of play was from the right. This way, Alba only had to stretch wide and wait for Messi to give him a long ball, making him 1v1 available with the opposition fullback.
On the ball, the Maestro was top notch in the first half. Due to Roberto providing protection as 3rd CB, Busquets finally got to play as an anchor and was providing some exquisite passing. It looked as if his natural passing game was coming out. Off the ball, Busquets was badly hit by Valladolid transitions. He had to regularly vacate his position to cover the opposing forward but this meant that the Barcelona center-backs had to directly face the striker.
The wonder-kid absolutely dominated the game when he was playing. Not only was he pulling out CM’s from their midfield lines but he was also the key in balancing the game in the first half. In the second half, once he was taken out, Barcelona lost control of the whole game. This proves how beneficiary and efficient Puig is to Setien’s system.
The Chilean was a powerhouse on the pitch and he scored the only goal in the evening. Benching him against Espanyol was an accurate decision. It was clear that he was tired and resting him was the only way to get his form back and it did pay off. His quick link up with Messi and on top of that his goal was magnificent to give Barcelona the lead.
As it stands, Griezmann can’t play as a number 9. This is one of the main problems that Setien isn’t able to solve. Today, Griezmann and Puig both played on the same vertical channel, this way most of the passes which were intended for Griezmann were either getting nullified or Puig got it. The reason being both Puig and Griezmann was making some type of movements. His miss in the first half was actually dreadful to watch. It was a very good chance which he misjudged.
Messi achieved two incredible feats tonight. First is, Messi is now level with Xavi to assist 20 times in a single season with the Argentine having 2 league matches at his helm. Second, Messi is the second player to have 20+ goals and assist with Thierry Henry scoring 24 goals and 20 assists to his name during the 2002/2003 premier league season. Messi is also 1 assist behind to level with Thomas Muller in highest assist ranking this season.
Substitutes ratings and reviews:
Barcelona fans completely enjoyed the first half without the Uruguayan but when he was subbed on in the second half, it all went as expected. Suarez missed a couple of great chances and killed so many counters which might have sealed the game. It’s frustrating when Suarez enters the pitch these days.
Rakitic was brought in to play in Busquet’s position and he did really well. He was holding his position and also gave good passes to the forwards
Ronaldo Araujo and Junior Firpo(N/A)
Manager rating and review(6.9/10):
From tactics to player selection, Setien was kind of correct but his substitutions were largely incorrect. He made early substitutions that weren’t necessary at that point. The team structure was right but the rectangle formation by Messi, Griezmann, Puig, and Vidal didn’t make sense. In fact, both Puig and Vidal stayed more central during the buildup. Other than that, Setien has to make sure how he can get the best out of Griezmann while also maintaining the fluidity in the system. That is one of the main challenges at present.
Vidal and Setien both answered why the team was lacking momentum and drained energy in the second half.
Quique Setién: “Today fatigue played a big role. It was very hot and some players lacked freshness.”
Vidal: “The heat has affected us in the second half, the team was more tired for that reason.”
Despite this, the team needs to work on the defensive aspect of their game and find some ways on how to prevent the opposition from creating such dangerous chances despite the clear qualitative difference between the sides. The team has to start preparing for the UCL in order to have some chances of winning Europe’s most prestigious trophy in club competitions.
That’s it from Barcelona players ratings and review, do check out our Match Summary