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5 takeaways from the Deportivo Alavés 0–5 Barcelona

Five things we learned from the Barcelona win over Alavés in the final game of the league season

Javier Giorgetti

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Header Image by Ander Gillenea / AFP via Getty Images

Last La Liga match for Barcelona in the 2019/20 season. They did not disappoint. Showtime as visitors as, despite not being able to win the competition, the team left positive sensations before the Champions League. These are five takeaways from the Deportivo Alavés 0–5 Barcelona.


A victory, three points, clean sheet, manita and confidence recovered as visitors. Against Alavés, Barcelona radically changed compared to the previous and disappointing encounter with Osasuna. The azulgranas came out from minute 1 to look for goals, to play with intensity, and to put on a show at Mendizorroza. Although the result will not take away the league trophy from Real Madrid, it will return smiles to culés and restore the team’s confidence and motivation. With a 0–5 win, this is how Barça officially ended the 2019/20 season in La Liga. These are five things we learned from the Deportivo Alavés 0–5 Barcelona.

1. Riqui Puig masterclass

Riqui Puig was part of the starting eleven and played all 90 minutes at Vitoria, doing a magnificent job in all facets of the game. In attack, by delivering endless key passes, moving from side to side and being very involved, as usual. In defence, he was impeccable in recovering balls and going to press with great intensity. Fans probably witnessed Puig’s best display with the first team. Multiple key passes and many chances generated. He not only gave his first assist in La Liga, but he did it twice.

Riqui’s first assist came in a counter-atack in which Sergi Roberto sent a great pass to number 28. The youngster calmly controlled the ball and read very well the movement of Lionel Messi, who scored the second of the match. Later, in the second period, Puig received a pass from Messi and had the vision to spot Nélson Semedo arriving into the opposing box, delivering a subtle pass for the Portuguese to score the 0–4. Moreover, the 20-year-old did not stop creating opportunities, as he could even had had two more assists after beautiful balls for Luis Suárez and Arturo Vidal that unfortunately did not end in a goal.

2. Not many available players, but versatile ones

A list of 16 footballers at first glance looks dramatic, especially considering that there were only five men on the bench, two of whom were goalkeepers. For these chaotic situations, it is always necessary to thank Barça for having versatile players capable of playing in multiple positions. This has already been proven more than once this season with Sergi Roberto, Nélson Semedo, Frenkie de Jong and Arturo Vidal.

Arturo Vidal Nélson Semedo Barcelona Alavés takeaways

In the second period, Arturo Vidal acted as a centre-back, as he had done on a few occasions at Juventus | Photo by Ander Gillenea / AFP via Getty Images

During the match against Deportivo Alavés, with a limited squad, Clément Lenglet suffered slight ankle discomfort, forcing him to request the change at the beginning of the second half. With a suspended Gerard Piqué and an injured Samuel Umtiti, Quique Setién had to make an emergency decision to maintain the four-man defensive line. For this, it was Arturo Vidal who acted as centre-back throughout the second half, doing more than well enough. It is always important to have these type of players on a team because you never know when that valuable versatility will be needed.

3. Ansu Fati shows his talent once again

Ansu Fati covered almost all areas of the left flank, as his mobility, reading of spaces and positioning helped the team to create the required width. With the ball, his control, agility, decision making and explosiveness were important for Barcelona to comfortably beat Alavés. 17 years and Ansu continues to shine.

“Ansu Fati doesn’t surprise me at all. He is an assassin from the area”

Víctor Valdés

Ansu Fati’s attributes allowed him to be Lionel Messi’s best partner, as he anticipated the Argentinian’s chipped pass to the centre of the area to come out of nowhere and open the scoring. Undoubtedly the teenager has to be essential in the Champions League this year and be permanently promoted to the first team in the following season.

4. Lionel Messi’s Pichichi and new records

Lionel Messi’s inclusion in the initial line-up was criticised for him needing rest, but you can’t talk about resting the number 10 when he is on the verge of achieving new feats. Messi was pressured by Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema in the race for the Pichichi trophy for the most goals in La Liga. Before matchday 38, Messi had a lead of only two goals. However, a hungry Leo filled with energy secured his seventh Pichichi in his career to become the first player in history to win this many.

Messi was not only about to break a record related to goals, but also to assists. This term Lionel has become less of a goalscorer, but more of a contributor to the team’s chance-creation through assists. Against Alavés, La Pulga detected Ansu’s run from behind and sent him an almost perfect pass for Fati’s opener. Thus, this allowed Messi to break the record previously held by Xavi Hernández for the most assists in one season in La Liga, and to tie Thomas Müller’s achievement for the most assists in one course in a European league with 21. Messi never ceases to amaze us.

5. A smile before the Champions League

This victory does not mean anything or change the fact that Real Madrid have won La Liga, but it does increase the motivation and confidence in the team before the Champions League. Against Osasuna in the previous matchday, the azulgranas were totally out of shape, incapable of threatening the opposition. Nevertheless, on Sunday afternoon against Alavés, Setién’s men delivered an excellent performance collectively and individually.

Finally, what better way to regain that self-belief than with a 0–5? Such game improved the reputation of Barcelona in the league and allows it to end this season on a positive note. We could more or less draw conclusions about the future of the team in the European tournament and which players will be crucial to progress in it. For now, though, Barça will have enough rest to regain their fitness and be ready for the magical nights of the UEFA Champions League.


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Match Reviews

Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla, Detailed Player Ratings: An incredible comeback

Aaryan Parasnis

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

We take a detailed look at the player ratings in the Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla (3-2 agg.) game in the Copa del Rey 2nd leg of the semi-finals.


Heading into the second leg of the semi-final, Barcelona had a sense of optimism. But a 2-0 deficit against one of the toughest opponents in Spain? Still seemed like a bit of a write-off. But boy did the Blaugrana flip the script in an emphatic fashion. In a remarkable turnaround, the Catalans pulled off a 3-0 win against Sevilla after dragging them to extra time, to reach the Copa del Rey final.

It couldn’t have been more dramatic. A stunner from Ousmane Dembele, a penalty save and a miracle stop from Marc Andre Ter Stegen, the last gasp header from Gerard Pique to force extra time, two red cards for Sevilla and a Martin Braithwaite goal to cap off the win — A sweet victory for Barcelona in a topsy-turvy season.

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Ronald Koeman stuck to his guns with the 3-5-2 setup that won them the La Liga game against Sevilla in midweek. And as the adage says, there wasn’t any need to fix something that wasn’t broken. Barcelona managed to completely dominate the Andalusians and went one better from their league victory to secure a final berth. They will now face either Levante or Athletic Club Bilbao in a bid to win a record 31st Copa del Rey title.

Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

And what better way to do it than tonight’s display. A performance-driven by immense character, talent and unity.

Marc Andre Ter Stegen: 9

The German hardly put a foot wrong in goal. Alert and commanding as ever, Ter Stegen was heroic in the second half. He saved and held on to Lucas Ocampos’ 73rd-minute penalty, not only keeping Barcelona’s lead intact on the night but also preventing the all-important away goal which would have certainly put the tie beyond Barcelona’s reach.

Oscar Mingueza: 7.5

After a superb showing against Sevilla at the weekend, the youngster put in another solid shift playing at the right of Koeman’s back three, making some crucial interceptions and also a few really good line-breaking passes. He was unlucky to give away the penalty when he brought down Ocampos with a dangling leg, but more than made up for it otherwise. Mingueza was assured in possession and completed 69 out of his 72 attempted passes. A stellar 96% completion rate.

Gerard Pique: 9

He has to be without a doubt, one of the most important figures in the club’s recent history. One president scoring in front of the three presidential candidates who were all at the Camp Nou to witness the drama that unfolded in this enthralling match.

His 94th-minute goal will grab the headlines, but he was rock solid at the back as well. He made 21 recoveries and did not lose the ball even once. Constantly covered for his fellow center-backs whenever needed. There was an injury scare as he went down holding his knee in the second half of extra time, but battled on to see out the game. Just a wonderful showing from the veteran.

Clement Lenglet: 7

Lenglet has been struggling for form lately but tonight’s display will do his confidence a lot of good. Nothing remarkable but a strong, silent display on the left side of the defensive three. Covered well for Jordi Alba when he moved upfield and was really solid in the air. Did very well to nullify most of the threat coming from Sevilla’s right flank.

Sergino Dest: 6

The American had a very promising first half but dwindled in the second. Playing higher up in the wingback role, he made a few good passes and was energetic as ever. But failed to provide anything too substantial down the right. Did not do much wrong either, before being replaced by Antoine Griezmann in the 63rd minute.

Jordi Alba: 8

Typically dangerous in attack, Alba was a constant menace from left wingback. Bombed forward and always provided the width needed to stretch out the Sevilla defense. Pressed relentlessly to win the ball high up. He was unlucky not to score himself with a thunderous volley that rattled the bar. He was unfazed though as his terrific cross set up Martin Braithwaite’s header which gave Barcelona the third goal and subsequently the win.

Alba Braithwaite Barcelona Sevilla Player Ratings
Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Pedri: 6

After an injury scare at the weekend, his inclusion was surprising. He was typically energetic but failed to produce anything of real substance. Connected well with his teammates and had one look at the goal which he sent wide. Aside from that, not the most noteworthy performance from the youngster.

Frenkie De Jong: 8

His form under Ronald Koeman in this new advanced role just seems to keep improving. De Jong was majestic at times, holding and carrying the ball forward effortlessly. Other than a few sloppy moments, he was indomitable. Covered every area of the pitch with or without the ball and never lost his intensity. He had 121 touches and completed 93% of his passes, never looking like letting up. Another solid, promising showing from the Dutchman.

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Sergio Busquets: 7.5

Assured as ever on the ball and screened the defense very well off it. Busquets played a few wonderful through passes in the first half but then just mostly opted for safety, which was perhaps a wise decision. Got farther forward to provide support quite a few times as well. A safe presence in the midfield and crucial to the result.

Lionel Messi: 8

Not the Argentine’s best outing of late, but even so better than most players in the world even on an average day at the office. The most noteworthy aspect of his performance? His relentless pressing and tracking back. Typically dropped deep to collect the ball and sprayed wonderful passes to his teammates. Completed all 11 dribbles that he attempted.

He had the chances to score a goal or two himself and was unlucky to see an effort cleared off the line. Quieter than usual, but still a key figure for Barcelona. Thankfully they didn’t have to rely solely on him to score in order to progress tonight.

Ousmane Dembele: 8.5

Dembele Sevilla ratings
Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The Frenchman is finally looking like he is leaving his troubled past at Barcelona behind. Scored a stunning goal early on in the game, lifting the team’s confidence and setting the bar high. His strike dictated the flow of the game, giving everyone more assurance to go for the win.

Aside from a wonderful goal, also tracked back without any hesitation and was generally a constant menace out wide. His second goal against Sevilla in as many games, but this one even more beautiful and significant than the last.

Substitutes:

Antoine Griezmann: 7.5. Came on and rejuvenated the team with his impeccable work-rate. Provided a moment of magic as he set up Pique’s header with a wonderful turn and pinpoint cross.

Ilaix Moriba: 6.5

Martin Braithwaite: 7. Did exactly what he was brought on to do. Scored the crucial winner in extra time and handed Barcelona the win and the tie.

Francisco Trincao: 6

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