La Liga 2017/18, Barcelona 3-0 Levante: Player Ratings
The Blaugrana eased to victory...
Philippe Coutinho was the name on everyone’s lips as Barcelona maintained their nine-point lead at the top of La Liga with a 3-0 victory over lowly Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Goals from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Paulinho secured an easy win for the Blaugrana, who barely broke a sweat on their way to a 15th win in 18 league games, a day after a £142million deal was agreed for the Liverpool star.
Here are the player ratings from a straightforward outing at Camp Nou.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10
Although Ter Stegen was solid on the whole, with very little action to be called on for, he did fumble the ball a couple of times and was not as assured as he usually is. That said, he played the sweeper role effectively, helping counteract the lack of pace at the back with Mascherano and Vermaelen sitting in for the regular centre-back pairing of Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti. The German also made a big save from Shaquell Moore in the second half.
Jordi Alba – 7/10
Alba has set up Messi for five of his 16 LaLiga goals this season, and he was constantly looking for La Pulga on Sunday night. As always, the Spain international was a real threat going forward, though he did allow Levante to use quick turnovers and get runs on goal.
Thomas Vermaelen – 7/10
Once mocked for his inability to get fit and written off as a complete flop at the Camp Nou, Vermaelen has put in a string of great performances in place of Umtiti. Levante got forward a lot and, had they finished better, the Belgian’s evening may not have been so comfortable. But his positional sense and ability to win the ball cleanly, something he did seven times in all, stood out.
Javier Mascherano – 6/10
Playing perhaps his final Barcelona game, and his first in ten; Mascherano is likely to move to China in January. Although Levante broke through the lines a few times, particularly in the first half, he barely put a foot wrong. If he is to bow out, he does so in a typically professional and understated manner.
Sergi Roberto – 7/10
For all the talk of Alba’s on-field relationship with Messi, Sergi Roberto has been directly involved with as many of Luis Suarez’s goals this season. His layoff for a fifth of the campaign, in the first half, will be overshadowed by the Uruguayan’s fantastic finish, but his overall understanding of the game deserves so much credit. He moved into midfield seamlessly when Nelson Semedo came on; his versatility makes him so important to this team.
Andres Iniesta – 7/10
Coutinho may have been the talk of the town on Sunday, with reports suggesting the Brazilian is viewed as Iniesta’s replacement in midfield. Ir was down to the 33-year-old to show just why the now former Liverpool man has a real job on his hands; while it wasn’t a vintage performance, he did enough to remind every one of his quality, if he really had to, before Andre Gomes replaced him on 75 minutes.
Ivan Rakitic – 6/10
Just like in the 4-1 victory over Deportivo la Coruña last month, Rakitic filled in for the absent Sergio Busquets at the base of the Barcelona midfield. The Croat could have protected the defence a little better in the first half, given the fullbacks’ propensity for getting forward, but he kept the game ticking over and always looked to play the ball forward given the opportunity.
Paulinho – 6/10
The unique member of the Barcelona midfield, and the top scorer in LaLiga in his position; it was another game that showed why Paulinho has become so popular with the Cules. It may not have been his busiest game, but the Brazilian’s forward runs made sure his side were always pressurising the Levante defence. He turned in a Messi cross for his seventh goal of the season late on.
Ousmane Dembele – 6/10
It took a lot longer than he’d have expected to start his first LaLiga game at Camp Nou because of a hamstring problem, but he looks worth the wait and will be very popular with the fans. The former club record signing was exciting, always looking up and taking players on; two solid shots at goal gave a sign of what is to come before he was substituted just past the hour mark.
Lionel Messi – 7/10
The Argentine was making his 400th appearance for Barcelona on Sunday night, and he marked it in the only way he knows how – with a goal.
Other than that, though, Messi was as quiet as he gets. He still put in a performance with an assist as well, for Paulinho, and showcased his lesser revered skills, like passing. Without being particularly amazing, he still managed to stand out and impact the game.
Luis Suarez – 7/10
It was a game that kind of summed up the season for Suarez; starting slowly before coming to life but still being unable to shake the offside flag. His goal, late in the first half, was sheer brilliance, controlling Sergi Roberto’s pass on his chest and lashing it past Oier in the Levante goal. There were at least two gears he could have reached if needed.
Nelson Semedo – 6/10
Sergi Roberto’s versatility has been the biggest problem for Semedo, who has not really put a foot wrong at right-back. The Portugal international slotted in nicely when he came on, with his main competition pushing further on.
Andre Gomes – 6/10
For Gomes, life at Barcelona has not been easy. He is well down the pecking order and could be pushed even further by Coutinho’s arrival this month, but he put in a confident display after coming on for Iniesta for a cameo. One piece of skill, in particular, a drag back and cross into the box, caught the eye.
Jose Arnaiz – N/A
The 22-year-old replaced Sergi Roberto with only five minutes remaining.