Barcelona 1-0 Real Valladolid: Player ratings | LaLiga 2018-19
Barcelona hosted 15th placed Valladolid, and it ended in a much-needed win for the defending champions, with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid climbing up the points table rapidly, beginning to choke them
The team selection for Barcelona was an interesting one, with a crucial away game against Lyon up next, and for once, it seemed like Ernesto Valverde had gotten his rotations right.
The squad wasn't missing too many crucial players, but still wasn't under-rotated by any means. With Semedo guaranteed to start vs Lyon, Roberto replaced him. Dembele started for the first time since injury, and Suarez was given a much-needed rest with KPB playing in his place. Vermaelen and Vidal started in place of Lenglet and Rakitic respectively.
To summarise the first half in 1 line - Barcelona were choked by the 5 man midfield of Valladolid, who started in a 3-5-2. Messi and Dembele were not able to get past the defence, because Valladolid shifted to a 5 man defence when off the ball.
The first half was certainly not the best Barcelona performance we have seen, with only Dembele getting a shot away in the course. Out of the blue, a quick turnover from Ter Stegen found Messi at the opposite end, who missed a shot (will discuss him in detail later), the ball fell to Pique who went down easily and was awarded a penalty which Messi converted.
Penalty or not?
A controversial one, but it should not have been a penalty.
In the second half, Roberto started playing higher up, Alena too ventured up, causing Real Valladolid a worry or two. Though their attacks didn't cause Barca much problem, their defence and keeper definitely did.
The second half was repetitive - a clearly irritated Barcelona created chance after chance and missed each of them with utmost perfection. This included a missed chance off a second penalty by Messi, after Coutinho went down in the box 5 minutes before time.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen - 6/10
Quiet day at the office for the Barcelona #1. No saves to be made, a couple of goal kicks were all he was involved in.
Sergi Roberto - 7.5/10
Massively involved in the attacking aspect of the game. He was one of the main reasons for the tide's shift in Barcelona's favour in the 2nd half. Solid defensively.
Gerard Piqué - 8/10
Pique was a rock at the back. One of the biggest reasons the Blaugrana didn't concede. But along with that, his attacking contributions were immense, and he also helped win that all important penalty.
Thomas Vermaelen - 7/10
Vermaelen had a decent game and did exactly what the boss asked him to. He was caught out of position a couple of times, but 4 clearances and 3 interceptions are by no means bad statistics for a defender.
Jordi Alba - 7/10
Alba was one of the players most affected by the 5 man MF of Valladolid. He didn't have any space to cut through the defense and had to constantly track back because of the high press. Defensively though, he was at his usual best.
Carles Aleñá - 7.5/10
Alena was a great influence in the midfield. His attacking game was one of the factors that gave Barcelona the upper hand in the second half. He embodies La Masia, and it shows in his game. Still, quite a few unforced errors that have to be rectified.
Sergio Busquets - 7.5/10
Defensively, Busquets brought back his 'A' game after a long time, and Valverde will be pleased with the timing of the same. He wasn't involved too much in the attacking aspect of the game, but that was because of Alena's presence up front
Arturo Vidal - 7.5/10
Vidal had one of his better games. Contributed massively defensively, and though he couldn't completely replicate Rakitic's effect, his sheer warrior spirit on-field hits you straight at your heart. His fitness however didn't look great as he was struggling with his knee, and with Arthur already out, Barcelona can't afford to lose another midfielder.
Kevin Prinice Boateng - 6.5/10
Boateng linked up well, made good runs, and helped win back the ball. He had an easy 1v1 chance in the second half, where he miserably failed in trying to go round the goalkeeper. Needs to improve his finishing to have any chance of getting more playing time.
Ousmane Dembélé - 7/10
Dembele had an off day too, maybe he could have done a better job at RWF. His dribbles just weren't right, and though he did make the right decision plenty of times, Messi's miserable day in front of goal probably made his game look worse than it was.
Lionel Messi - 8/10
Messi had a completely off day in front of goal, 5 shots on target, 4 blocked. Additionally, he was dispossessed a whopping 7 times, in addition to missing a penalty. But as a playmaker, he had a phenomenal game, with 8 key passes, and 4 big chances created. Even without his gift of finishing, this man was Barcelona's best player on the pitch.