In what was an enthralling contest between the two Spanish sides, unlike what the scoreline suggests, the Catalans ran out 2-0 winners away from home thanks to goals from Nelson Semedo and Lionel Messi. This exciting game also had a red card as Espinosa was sent off because of a second yellow card.
The first half saw Girona pressurising the Barcelona midfield with rigorous pressing and created several brilliant attacking chances only to be stopped by an in-form Marc-Andre ter Stegen between the Barcelona sticks. Semedo had opened the scoring because of a poor clearance from Girona's defence.
Early in the second half, Espinosa was sent off and Girona's intensity dropped. Barcelona started to dominate the game and even scored a goal in the 68th minute through Messi with a masterful chip from a well-timed Alba pass, thus ending Girona's hopes to get something from the game.
Moving on, let's have a look at Barcelona's player ratings from the match.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8/10
The German shot-stopper was probably the reason why Girona couldn't score a deserving goal. ter Stegen made made some really good saves against the Girona attack but at the same time, he was very impressive with his ice-cool distribution. He was crucial to Barcelona's build-up play and even had one key pass to his name, a statistic any goalkeeper would be proud of. All in all, he had a great game and was one of the best players of the match.
Nelson Semedo: 7.5/10
Semedo has truly been a revelation in the last few games and has made the right-back position with some consistently good performances and this match was no different. In fact, he even scored a well-struck goal to give the Camp Nou outfit the lead in the game.
He was available on the right flank whenever the team was attacking and at the same time he was defensively solid and dealt well with the Girona attackers. If he continues to perform like this, he wouldn't have to worry about Sergi Roberto displacing him.
Gerard Pique: 7.5/10
The veteran Spaniard had a good game as he showed his skills with a goal-line clearance and stopped the home side from scoring a goal. His positional awareness was excellent today and, as usual, his passing was crucial to Barcelona's build-up play. To conclude, he seems to have put away his early season bad form and is back to his vintage best.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
Lenglet had a decent game and did not do anything wrong throughout the whole match. He partnered Pique well and got a clean sheet for his team. He was substituted in the 77th minute to avoid suspension as he was booked earlier in the game.
Jordi Alba: 7.5/10
The pacy Barcelona left-back didn't get to bomb forward as much as he would have liked in the first half because of Girona's constant attacks but defended well. In the second half, he came back to his own and started making those darting runs on the left flank. He even assisted Messi's goal with a well-timed pass to double the Blaugrana's lead. Conclusively, he was good both while attacking and defending.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
The motherboard of this Barcelona supercomputer was good with his passing as usual but was often overrun by the quick attacks from the Girona players. He was rash and even got himself booked. In this match, he was not as good as he usually is but this is Busquets we are talking about, he'll come back stronger.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
Like Busquets, he was overrun by the Girona attackers in the midfield and was also booked in the first half. He wasn't much involved in the build-up and the attacks and was rightfully substituted in the second half paving way for Arthur. Arthur, the substitute, had a better game than Vidal. Vidal needs to improve his game or Arthur will replace him in the starting line-up.
Ivan Rakitic: 6.5/10
Rakitic had a good first half where he often dribbled from the left midfield position and distributing the ball effectively. However, in the second, he wasn't really impressive and looked tired. Nevertheless, he kept things going and got the job done.
Philippe Coutinho: 6/10
Another disappointing game for the expensive Brazilian as he failed to take advantage of Dembele's injury. He missed two big chances to score and also couldn't do anything noteworthy on the left wing. If he wants to save his Barcelona career, he needs to play better or else his dream at Barcelona may come to an end.
Lionel Messi: 8.5/10
Another game, another goal for the Argentinian maestro as he scored a goal in his seventh consecutive LaLiga game. He was brilliant for the whole game and scored with a beautiful chip.
As for chances creation, he created many for the team and Coutinho missed a great scoring opportunity from acute through ball from Messi. To sum up, Messi, as usual, had a brilliant game and was the difference between the two sides.
Luis Suarez: 7/10
Although Suarez did not have a great game, didn't score and missed a good opportunity to do so, he still had a positive influence on the game. His pass in the Barca's first goal was crucial and he even had four key passes to his name. He may not have scored or assisted, but still was menacing for Girona's defence.
Arthur came on for Vidal in the 58th minute and had a pretty good game. His passing was really impressive and distributed the ball really well. Although he didn't create any notable scoring opportunity, he still contributed more than Vidal did.
Thomas Vermaelen & Sergi Roberto
Both players came on too late to impact the game in any way.Published 28 Jan 2019, 21:17 IST