Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona: Ratings Barça players in the Catalan derby | La Liga 2019-20
Wu Lei's late equaliser rubbed salt into Ernesto Valverde's sore wounds as bottom-dwellers Espanyol snatched a point off Barcelona's claws late on in the Catalan derby. The home team deservedly led inside the opening 25 minutes through David Lopez, and managed to keep the visitors at bay till the conclusion of the first half. However, the infusion of Arturo Vidal added the much-needed spark for Blaugrana, who turned it around in the space of nine minutes courtesy Luis Suárez and the former Bayern Munich midfielder.
An anti-climatic sequence followed in the 88th minute when Lei slotted home a well-drilled effort to salvage just the 11th point of the season for his club. In doing so, he also became the first Chinese player to find the back of the net against Barcelona in a competitive game. Perhaps, the cracks opened up for the Liga champions after Frenkie de Jong was given his marching orders for shirt pulling. The result therefore, leaves them level on points with Real Madrid.
Lionel Messi and Suarez did come close to scoring earlier in the first period of the game, but a killer's instinct was visibly lacking from their perspective. On that note, we rate the visitors in what played out as an enthralling draw.
Norberto Neto - 5/10
Neto could hardly do anything about the goals, barring comments over positioning. The obvious commanding presence of Marc-André ter Stegen between the post was visible.
Sergi Roberto - 6/10
Roberto was there or there about, but not extremely effective in the final third. There were more passes played backward, owing to the stiffness of the Espanyol back line. His final ball has scope for improvement. But defensively, he was sound.
Gerard Pique - 5/10
Pique was rather solid throughout the game in the air and on the ball, but he alongside his partner, should've closed down Lei. Instead, they gave him a lot of time and space to run with it and then fire it into the back of the net.
Clement Lenglet - 3.5/10
Lenglet has largely improved in many ways, but there are communication issues regarding his role at center back. While he certainly produced a neat show with his clearances and alertness to close people down, a couple of moments where he completely switched off nearly cost his side. The same was highlighted when Lei sprung off his back, left him in his wake and plotted a fierce strike past Neto.
Jordi Alba - 6/10
Alba was left exposed many a times, and the acres of space Barça left in the box for the second goal was freakish. Having said that, Alba produced scintillating quality while going forward, as he assisted Suarez with a finely-tuned slider. A mixed bag for sure.
Ivan Rakitic - 2/10
Ivan Rakitic has to move on; he was simply not up to the pace of the game in the opening 30 minutes or so. It was no wonder then, that the away side failed to plant an effort on target. Rakitic was extremely slow with and without the ball, and there was a clear lack of detail or substance in his game. Many would even say that it was his substitution and not Vidal's introduction, that changed the projection of the game.
Sergio Busquets - 4.5/10
Busquets was there to mop up whenever required, but at times, especially in the opening exchanges of the game, he was isolated and outnumbered. The maestro didn't quite have the foothold on proceedings as he usually does, leaving his side reeling more often than not.It was not easy to dust off the demanding presence of Marc Roca in midfield.
Frenkie de Jong - 4/10
He's arguably been Barcelona's finest midfielder this season in many ways, but the shirt pull, although tactical, was unnecessary. Frenkie de Jong sprayed passes all across the pitch and fed off the forwards and full backs, but his absence made his side pay a heavy price in the end.
Lionel Messi - 7.5/10
It'd be cruel to take anything away from the man of men, who instilled creativity, panic and excitement altogether many a time. He completed a chunk of take-ons, with the one run from deep right to the 18-yard box standing out. He created ample chances, but given his otherworldly standards, you'd expect Messi to be involved more constantly than he was. Flashes, not fireworks, as far as Messi was concerned.
Antoine Griezmann - 4/10
Repeatedly you wonder, why does Antoine Griezmann play down the left flank on paper? He sporadically entered the game, but was far from the zones where we know he can inflict maximum damage. He faded as the game wore on, and stood no chance at one point when the Espanyol midfield ran the show.
Luis Suárez - 9/10
As the alarm bells continue to ring for Ernesto Valverde, the Barça head coach must've considered himself lucky on the day when Luis Suarez was at his clinical, supreme best. The striker's movement, having been a hallmark of his game over the decade, was the highlight of the first half where only he looked like scoring. The striker smashed the post in the first half, but deftly finished with all the awareness to restore parity. He then setup Vidal for the second, alongside conducting the press, working tirelessly and barely putting a foot wrong.
Substitutes: Arturo Vidal - 8/10
Vidal's introduction proved to be a lifeline for Barcelona, as he injected energy, cohesion and a more substantial threat on goal. He was sharper with the tidying work, while the veteran's constant presence in either box proved handy and ultimately, played a huge part in the result. He has got to start from here on.
Nelson Semedo - NA
Semedo hardly contributed to the game as a whole, hence is not rated.