In the final game week of the UEFA Champions League Group Stage, group winners Barcelona topped off a successful group stage with a 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon. In a pretty meaningless game for the La Liga leaders, Barcelona ripped apart an awe-struck Sporting side. The Catalonians now finish top of Group D, with 14 points to their name. For Sporting, they must now accept life in the Europa League as they finished 3rd in the group.
Here’s how the players fared:
Jasper Cillessen: 6.5/10
The Dutchman literally had nothing to do all game until Bas Dost blasted a shot straight at him in the 62nd minute. All the keeper had to do was stand up straight and be strong to deny his fellow countryman. Apart from that, Cillessen was untried against Sporting.
Nelson Semedo: 6.5/10
The usually offensive full-back seemed to be playing in a reserved manner tonight. Semedo didn’t offer width down the right, neither was he tested in defence. It was only when Messi came on that the 24-year-old felt more inclined to push forward.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
The Spaniard was having a quiet game until Jorge Jesus decided to bring on Sporting’s top scorer, Bas Dost. Pique struggled to cope with the Dutchman’s physicality, as he was afforded several goal scoring opportunities due to the Spaniard’s weaknesses.
Thomas Vermaelen: 6/10
After years of injury problems, it’s now the Belgian’s turn to capitalize on someone else’s injury woes, as he’s now covering for the stricken Samuel Umtitti. Vermaelen won 4 aerial duels and made 1 clearance in a relatively easy game for the 32-year-old.
Lucas Digne: 6/10
As Jordi Alba’s understudy, Digne didn’t put a foot wrong against Sporting. He wasn’t a liability in defence but at the same time, he wasn’t a spark in Barcelona’s attacking play.
Aleix Vidal: 6.5/10
Normally deployed at right-back, Aleix Vidal played on the right of a Barca front three. Subsequently, the 28-year-old was involved in nearly every one of Barcelona’s attacks, completing 1 dribble, creating 1 chance and attempting 2 shots on goal in the process.
Andre Gomes: 6/10
The game seemed to pass the Portuguese international by. He wasn’t influential in attack; neither did he contribute anything in the defensive phase of the play. With Andres Iniesta nearing the end of his career, it’s safe to say Andre Gomes will not be his long-term successor.
Ivan Rakitić: 6.5/10
Barcelona’s midfield general was tasked with both dictating play and creating chances for his teammates. The Croatian completed a staggering 106 passes, created 1 chance and attempted 1 shot on goal.
Denis Suárez: 7/10
First team opportunities are few and far between at Barcelona, but Denis Suárez can rest assured knowing he gave his all in this performance. The 23-year-old mimicked the antics of Messi by the way he burst through the middle on several occasions, often leaving Sporting players in his wake.
Francisco Alcacer: 7.5/10
In the opening 30 minutes, Alcacer was relatively inconspicuous up front, without a creative force behind him, he looked lost. However, the Spaniard was able to score his 5th goal of the season in the 59th minute as he headed home from a Denis Suárez corner. It was also his ever-busy movement that led to Mathieu scoring a decisive own goal.
Luis Suárez: 6/10
Without Lionel Messi in the starting line-up, there was pressure on Suárez to be the Catalonian’s talisman. However, much like his form this season, his performance was nothing to rave home about. Valverde put him out of his misery in the 74th minute by substituting him for Paulinho.
Lionel Messi: 6/10
The 2nd best player in the world came on to inject some much-needed life into the game. His presence alone inspired his teammates to quicken their play and score a vital 2nd.
The energetic box-to-box midfielder drove through the heart of the Sporting midfield severally in his 16-minute cameo.
Sergio Busquets: N/A
The Spaniard was brought on to just steady the ship for Barcelona and keep possession ticking over.