Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona: Player ratings
Barcelona extended their unbeaten streak to 33 games tonight, with a hard fought 0-2 victory over Arsenal at The Emirates stadium. A brace from Lionel Messi settled the game in favour of the Catalans in the first leg of their second-round Champions League clash against the Gunners.
Luis Enrique’s men now literally have one foot in the next round, coming away from the away leg with a two-goal advantage and two precious away goals at that.
Here’s how each player fared in the much-anticipated clash in North London.
Petr Cech – (7.5/10)
The Arsenal goalkeeper was solid throughout the game. The ex-Chelsea man again proved his worth in goal with coolness personified and a couple of tremendous saves to keep whatever lingering hope that might remain.
Nacho Monreal – (7/10)
The Spaniard rarely ventured forward, tasked with containing the mercurial Lionel Messi, Defensively he was astute for most of the game and came through with a vital block late in the game.
Per Mertesacker – (6/10)
Mertesacker organised the defence well and was, in fact, one of the standouts in the game till his blunder at the end of the game. His indecisive touch led to Mathieu Flamini’s reckless tackle which eventually resulted in Barcelona’s second goal.
Laurent Koscielny – (7/10)
Koscielny led the defensive line well, with decisive tackles but was helpless to prevent the goals when Barcelona finally came storming.
Hector Bellerin – (6/10)
The Spaniard used his pace well, but just like Monreal at the other end, had to buckle down his maverick spirit in order to contain the runs of Neymar. Made life difficult for the Brazilian, who was operating on Barcelona’s left. But, couldn’t do anything when they finally broke the deadlock in the 71st minute from a counter that originated from his side of the field.
Mesut Ozil – (6/10)
Ozil looked good on the ball as ever. But had limited chances with possession at a premium. Even when he did, never could find that decisive final ball.
Aaron Ramsey – (7.5/10)
Great work-rate from the Welshman who looked threatening breaking from midfield. Ramsey also close to getting a goal for the Gunners in the 80th minute.
Francis Coquelin – (7/10)
Francis did his job of breaking up play at the heart of the Arsenal midfield. Coquelin subdued the Barcelona’ attacking threat from the middle of the park in this performance.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – (6.5/10)
His first half miss will haunt both him and the Gunners as he failed to lift the ball into the net. Was never the same after clashing at full speed with Javier Mascherano near the end of the first-half. Had to be taken off soon at the beginning of the second.
Alexis Sanchez – (6.5/10)
Alexsis played hard but not smart. The Chilean showed glimpses of his brilliance, but glimpses were what all we got to see.
Olivier Giroud – (6.5/10)
The Frenchman put in another great shift leading the Arsenal attack. However, the supply to him was greatly subdued with Barcelona ruling the roost in terms of possession. Created probably Arsenal’s best chance of the game, but Ter Stegen was equal to his effort.
Theo Walcott (for Oxlade-Chamberlain 50’)
Walcott never quite got into the game and didn’t have much of an impact.
Danny Welbeck (for Giroud 72’)
The English attacker provided a good spurt with his direct running and confidence on the ball.
Mathieu Flamini (for Coquelin 82’)
Flamini will not remember this game too well. His only real contribution was giving away the late penalty after Mertesacker had blatantly miscontrolled inside their own box.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – (7.5/10)
The Barcelona goalkeeper kept great concentration and made three vital interventions.The German international probably should have been tested by Chamberlain.Showed his worth in the second-half with a wonderful diving save from an Olivier Giroud header that was destined for the bottom corner of the goal.
Jordi Alba – (6.5/10)
Alba did help Neymar with overlapping runs down the left but was caught out a couple of times by Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pace.
Dani Alves – (7.5/10)
The Brazilian defender was adventurous down the right channel as well. He should have had an assist to his name only for Suarez to head wide a brilliantly crossed ball on the volley.
Gerard Pique – (7/10)
Pique kept Olivier Giroud in check for the majority of the game and was steady for the duration of the match.
Javier Mascherano – (7/10)
Arsenal never really did test his lack of pace or aerial ability. Giroud’s climb over him for his second-half chance showed where they could have exploited Barcelona more. But these were mostly hypothetical situations. The Argentine had a calming presence at the back.
Lionel Messi – (8/10)
Messi was again the brightest star on the pitch. The Argentine was subdued for most of the game and with both Suarez and Neymar having off-days, and the centre of the park stifled he was Barcelona’s best bet at creating something out of nothing. When the moment finally came, Messi showed why he is considered the world’s best.
Ivan Rakitic – (6/10)
The Croatian failed to really exert his presence on the game. He was greatly smothered by the presence of Coquelin and Ramsey in the middle of the pitch.
Sergio Busquets – (7/10)
With Barcelona lacking that crisp passing play in the final third, they greatly needed to keep the ball and keep it rolling from side to side. Sergio Busquets took away the threat of Mesut Ozil and helped Barcelona set their tempo.
Andres Iniesta – (7/10)
Iniesta played some really delightful balls from midfield. The Gunners did well to subdue his influence on the game.
Luis Suarez – (6/10)
This wasn’t Suarez’ best game and he certainly would rue some blatant chances he failed to convert.
Neymar – (7/10)
Neymar showed promise of opening the floodgates throughout the game but wasn’t as incisive with his play in the final third as we have come to know. However, he did set up Messi wonderfully for the first.