Disappointment from start to finish. These are the ratings for each Barcelona player in Thursday night’s 1–2 loss versus CA Osasuna.
Barcelona needed to beat Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Thursday night to at least seize any small chances of winning the league they had left and, in case of a Real Madrid victory, show an improvement ahead of the Champions League. But it was all disappointment for the blaugranas, losing 1–2 and seeing how Madrid got a 2–1 win over Villarreal to be claimed La Liga champions.
Regarding the game against Osasuna, the second half was much better in comparison to an atrocious first half, and Sergi Roberto’s addition at right-back allowed Barcelona to be comfortable in possession after proceedings. However, in the last few minutes, Barça threw everyone up front to get a goal, which allowed Los Rojillos to hit the locals on the counter as they sealed a heartbreaking winner in the concluding moments of the game. Here’s how the players performed in their 1–2 defeat against Osasuna:
Marc-André ter Stegen: 6/10
Not Ter Stegen’s best of days between the sticks. He would have saved the second goal on any other day but the shot, which was straight at him, unfortunately deflected into the net.
Gerard Piqué: 6.5/10
Piqué was one of Barcelona’s better defenders and his positioning on the counter-attacks prevented the Catalans from conceding goals in excess. Nonetheless, he continuously pushed up the field in the last few minutes, which resulted in Osasuna scoring. While he saw his side concede twice, he was competent on the ground and above average in the air.
Clément Lenglet: 6/10
Lenglet struggled a bit since Osasuna preferred to play the ball through the air. Consequently, he was not as efficient at defending the crosses. It could well be argued that the Frenchman’s positioning for Los Rojillos‘ winner was poor as well.
Nélson Semedo: 5.5/10
Semedo was defensively mediocre and failed to continue his solid form. The Portuguese was mostly playing up the field, leaving the right flank exposed just for Osasuna to exploit on the break. He needs to work on his defensive positioning, especially if he desire to become a regular starter at the club.
The full-backs left much to be desired in terms of their contribution in attack | Photo by Cordon Press via Imago
Junior Firpo: 5/10
Junior Firpo looked completely lost and out of the game. His tackling was poor and he was never really winning the ball back. In addition, he did not provide Barcelona with anything upfront and was a source of dispossession whenever the Dominican was on the ball.
Riqui Puig: 6.5/10
Riqui Puig was one of the few individuals trying to make something happen in the first half as he looked to create openings with his mobility on the ball. Even so, Osasuna’s compact defense made it impossible for Riqui to find a way through and eventually, he was brought off for Frenkie de Jong.
“I am going to count on Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Araújo. They are going to stay with us and won’t be involved with Barça B in the playoffs [for promotion to the Second Division]”
Iván Rakitić: 5.5/10
Uninspiring, dull and, once again, throwing shades of his unwanted former self. Iván Rakitić had a promising start since the restart, though clearly lacks consistency and stamina to keep up with such demanding schedules. He received a yellow card as well, which means this was his last league game for Barça this season. An exit this summer is certainly on the cards.
Sergi Roberto: 6.5/10
One of Barcelona’s few reliable players, Sergi Roberto, was deserving of a better outcome. He tried to make piercing runs forward in midfield and was an instant upgrade to Semedo at right-back. While Mister Versatile may have failed to contribute much in attack, Sergi was, throughout the course of the game, a threat for the opposition.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
Messi, more than anything, looked exhausted. Physically and mentally. Leo’s frustration was evident throughout the game and his uncharacteristic celebration after scoring displayed that. In spite of him looking worn out, the Argentine was Barça’s only major threat in attack. Scoring an equalising free-kick, he proved his talent is simply limitless.
“I’ve already said that if we continued like this we wouldn’t win anything in Europe, and now we didn’t even manage to win the league”
Martin Braithwaite: 5.5/10
Braithwaite seemed to connect well with Messi on a few occasions, but he was ineffective in the final third as he struggled to break down Osasuna’s incredibly low block. Although the Dane forward scored a neat little goal, he was unfortunate to have Lionel Messi in an offside position. A disappointing game for a player fans had high hopes from.
Ansu Fati: 6/10
Atypical performance from Ansu Fati, who couldn’t provide his side with width and flare he normally does. Fati strived to find opportunities on the left flank as he frequently cut inside, but the 17-year-old lost possession a few times and couldn’t provide his usual impact.
Arturo Vidal: 5.5/10
Luis Suárez: 6/10
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Jordi Alba: 6.5/10
Three talking points from Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
In the final edition of El Clásico in the 2020/21 domestic campaign, Barcelona incurred their fifth defeat of the league campaign. It was end-to-end stuff in the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, as an exceptional first-half performance from the hosts was followed up by a tantalizing second from Barça.
This game had everything someone could ask for in a Clásico. There was controversy, passion, goals and for the first time in a few years, a red card was the cherry on the top. These are Barca Universal’s takeaways from the game in the capital.
Real Madrid’s efficiency on show
With four shots on target, 1.58 Expected Goals, and two goals to their name, Real Madrid put to show their sheer efficacy in front of goal, as well as in defence. For the first half at least, Zinédine Zidane’s men were always at the right place, at the right time making all the right movements and to devastating effect.
Los Blancos‘ philosophy is one of winning, and doing so regardless of how the victory is earned. Contrary to the Catalans, who not only need to win, but also do it a certain way, Los Merengues are more than capable of abandoning their usually proactive approach to games in favour of a more reactive one. The fact that they are not bound to a specific ideology makes winning matches one of the simplest of tasks.
They held the ball for only 32% of the game, which goes completely against what a majority would expect them to. At the end of the day, however, possession matters significantly less than what one does with it. With every lapse in concentration from the Garnet and Blue, Madrid had enough men forward, and well enough positioned, to hit them where it hurt.
Despite the relatively low xG, they had enough big chances to even lead 4-0 come the halftime whistle. When it came to defending, their tight-knit defence, in stark contrast to that of their rivals, barely broke a sweat. They imposed an impenetrable low block, and applied a collective press to force as many errors as they could.
In addition to this, Zidane has the luxury of having a starting eleven of devastatingly versatile footballers in his arsenal. Fede Valverde for instance was as much a right-back as he was a central midfielder and a winger. He executed each role to pristine perfection, and so did his peers to ensure all 3 points, and bragging rights stayed in Madrid.
Excellent mentality shift
Following such a harrowing performance in the first half, few, if any, could have expected Barcelona to mount a comeback. Had this been any other team, that would have been possible, but given Real Madrid’s first-half performance, this was all but envisageable.
Indeed, the Catalans did fail to get any points from the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, however, the sheer mentality they showed in the second half was a sight for sore eyes. Ronald Koeman made the necessary adjustments to the side, reverting to the 4-3-3 and with it, they wrought trouble in the Madrid backline.
Lionel Messi celebrating the goal. pic.twitter.com/ZX1HzWSqAR— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) April 10, 2021
If in the first half Barça seemed caged in endless cycles of worthless possession, then in the second they made thorough use of it. The Blaugrana created eleven chances for themselves in the second period, and while doing this, they in turn limited Los Blancos to just a single shot on goal for the entirety of the half; a complete turnover from their performance in the opening 45 minutes.
It was nail-biting stuff up until the final second of the game, as Ilaix Moriba’s volleyed effort struck the underside of the crossbar. Given the overall performance from both sides, a draw would have been a considerably fairer result, but even in defeat with this version of Barça, the players and fans know that they can keep their heads held high.
A game of fine margins
Games of the magnitude of El Clásico will forever be decided by the most minute of details and the same was the case here.
The first significant one was the frame of the goal. In the first half, following the umpteenth counter attack from Real Madrid, Fede Valverde, who up until then was having yet another phenomenal showing against Barcelona, struck the frame of the post with a shot that crucially bounced underneath Sergio Busquets.
In the second half, Ronald Araújo nearly scored an own goal, but with Ter Stegen rooted to the spot, the ball rolled delicately onto the post and out for a corner. In the final minute of the match, and with Madrid fighting for their lives, Ilaix Moriba struck the underside of the crossbar to end this sensational tie on an emotional high.
Jordi Alba has often been criticized for being just as much a blessing offensively as he is a curse defensively. In the build-up to the hosts’ opener, he had one task to fulfill: mark his opposing fullback. This is one he absolutely failed, as he drifted too far inside, and by the time he had noticed his error, Lucas Vázquez already had Karim Benzema in his sights. Too little, too late.
The final significant detail was in the goal that won Los Blancos the game. After what many consider a poorly given free-kick from the referee’s standpoint, Toni Kroos surely could not believe his eyes when he saw the sheer state of Barça’s wall. Marc André Ter Stegen’s poor leadership of his defenders left him utterly vulnerable, and his German counterpart spared him no blushes, slotting it home to seal the victory for his side.