Barcelona took on 19th-placed Almeria on Sunday hoping to get back on track after their UEFA Europa League defeat in midweek. Given the wide gap between the two teams in terms of points and personnel, it was expected to be a routine win for Xavi’s men.
Yet, that was far from the case for the league leaders. They slumped into an early disadvantage as they went behind before 30 minutes and played catch-up for the rest of the fixture.
The team’s struggles against low blocks resurfaced at the Power Horse Stadium. That coupled with Barcelona’s recent wounds in Europe made the 90 minutes a laborious watch.
Barça may have dominated the possession on the evening but had nothing to show for it, in terms of chances and goals, as they fell to a shock 1-0 defeat. Needless to say, the slump in form is a big worry ahead of the midweek El Clasico.
Barca Universal brings you the player ratings from the Blaugranas’ defeat on Sunday.
Marc Andre ter Stegen: 6
The German could not keep a clean sheet on the evening but was not to blame for the goal conceded. Made a vital save moments later to deny Almeria a second goal off a Baptistao effort. Not much to do in the second period except a crucial save in the 93rd minute to save the blushes.
Sergi Roberto: 5
The defender was awful against the 19th-placed team in La Liga, not contributing to the attack even after the first half. Defensively, he was all over the place and was comfortably outrun whenever the hosts broke on the counter. Came off for Angel Alcaron after an uninspiring game.
Andreas Christensen: 7
The Dane was given the responsibility to lead the defence on the night with both Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo rested. He attempted to track back and chase El Bilal Toure for Almeria’s opener but came up just short. Was better in the second half.
Eric Garcia: 5
Was not even in the frame for Almeria’s opener and had several episodes of poor positioning in the game. Further, Garcia had himself foolishly booked for an unnecessary challenge in the 35th minute.
The La Masia graduate’s confidence did not improve as the game progressed and it was clear that the central defence was compromised. Was taken off by Xavi after 65 minutes and replaced by Araujo.
Jordi Alba: 7.5
The Spanish left-back was Barcelona’s best player in the first half by some distance. Created some big openings with his crosses from down the left side and constantly posed a threat in the final third with his runs behind the defence.
Began the second half with as much intent but could not make much happen. Came off after 67 minutes with six defensive actions and a key pass to his name.
Franck Kessie: 4
The Ivory Coast international was barely involved in the play against Almeria, completely absent for large parts of the opening period. With close to zero contributions in attack and defence, he made a strong case to be the team’s worst player on the night at the halfway stage and was replaced at half-time.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5
The captain lacked his usual sharpness at the Power Horse Stadium and looked far too casual with his distribution. In 45 minutes, the defensive midfielder completed only 78% of his passes and made few efforts to break the Almeria defence. Was better in the second period but came off early for Pablo Torre.
Frenkie de Jong: 7.5
The ball seemed to be in the middle of the park for eternity when in Barcelona’s possession, and the Dutchman was perhaps the most vital part of that circulation.
De Jong worked tirelessly in the opening period and constantly tried to find Alba or Ferran Torres with his passes. His display on the night was not extravagant but two rungs higher than the other ten players in Blaugrana colours.
Ferran Torres: 7.5
The in-form winger took some time to return to his threatening self and had minimal involvement in the early parts of the game. Sprung into action after the half-hour mark and began emulating Alba’s impact on the wing.
Moved to the left flank and provided a golden cross to Raphinha in the 71st minute but the Brazilian could not make it count.
Robert Lewandowski: 5
The Polish striker manager just one shot off target in the entire opening period in addition to five passes. Looked for vertical passes when on the ball but appeared lost for regular involvement of any sort in the buildup.
Completely invisible until the 85th minute and popped up with some good chances in the dying minutes.
Coming back from his suspension in the last game, Gavi did not have his best first-half performance. The Catalan star recorded just 11 passes in 5 minutes and did not make his usual runs behind the defensive line.
Finished the game with two shots, two passes into the final third and eleven defensive actions. Another yellow card means he will now miss the game vs Valencia.
Came on for Kessie at half-time and was almost instantly awarded a yellow card for a silly early free kick. Yet, the Brazilian made a tangible impact on the team’s attacking threat as he injected energy and dynamism on the flank.
Came painfully close to scoring in the 71st minute but could not bury Torres’ cross.
Ronald Araujo: 8.5
Came on and showed nerves almost instantly by giving the ball away in a dangerous position. After his initial slip-up, the Uruguayan was solid in defence and resourceful in the final third. Created serious threats in front of the goal in the closing minutes.
Marcos Alonso: 6.5
Solid defensively after he came on for Alba, and provided a reasonable threat in the final third with his crosses.
Pablo Torre: 4
Did not do much after coming on.
Angel Alcaron: 6
Provided a certain freshness in attack and recorded the team’s first real shot on target with a volley.