Mixed feelings for the overall display, but the result was more than good enough; these are the ratings for each Barcelona player in the 3–1 victory over Napoli in the second leg of the Champions League last 16.
Excellent result and proficient performance from the club that seemed done and dusted a few weeks ago. While it would be fair to label the match as a tale of two halves with Barça losing the momentum it had built almost completely in the second period, the blaugranas still managed to complete the daunting task of eliminating Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli as they now face Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Here’s how the Barcelona players fared in their victory against Napoli:
Marc-André ter Stegen: 7/10
As dominant as Napoli were, Ter Stegen was not tested as frequently in goal since the defence in front of him maintained incredible composure. While he was unfortunate to have conceded a penalty, which denied him from securing a well-earned clean sheet, the German’s ball distribution was marvellous and was a major factor in allowing the blaugranas to play against the Napoli pressure with comfort.
Nélson Semedo: 8/10
With Barcelona lacking a reliable figure at right-back, Nélson Semedo put in an absolute shift to silence many doubters. The Portuguese was utterly incredible in the first half, where he was seen taking on all the Napoli players and creating innumerable dangerous attacks by himself. Throwing shades of a certain Brazilian, he kept Lorenzo Insigne out of the game smoothly. Although in the second half he had his defensive work cut out with Insigne having a good half, Semedo stayed firm in his defence and didn’t allow the Italian wizard to get into prominent goalscoring positions.
One of Semedo’s best performances this season | Photo by David Ramos via Getty Images
Gerard Piqué: 7.5/10
Piqué proved to be the towering figure in the box and broke down any Napoli offence that came through the air. Nevertheless, a costly semi-error very early in the game almost gave the Gli Azzurri a goal which would have been absolutely catastrophic for the azulgranas.
Clément Lenglet: 8.5/10
Barcelona couldn’t have asked for a better successor to Samuel Umtiti. Clément Lenglet showcased a complete defensive masterclass where he was winning tackles, blocking shots and basically not letting the Neapolitans have any real look at goal. On the other end, he scored a brilliant header from a corner to initiate a flurry of goals for the culés. A memorable performance from the upcoming French defensive star.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Jordi Alba fulfilled his role well, though was barely challenged by José Callejón on his wing, which didn’t allow him to be as defensively involved. However, he had several good sequences of short passing with the midfielders and looked to link up well with the attack. A version of Alba where he is in unison with the attack is a dangerous sight for any upcoming opponents.
Frenkie de Jong: 8.5/10
Dancing in balletic fashion with the ball at his feet, Frenkie de Jong was simply a cut above everyone else. Marred with an injury that ruled him out in La Liga after the restart, De Jong’s comeback was worthy of endless admiration. The Dutchman controlled the pace of the game, dominating almost every part of the pitch and marking his territory whenever he went. A highlight play for him was when he effortlessly sent Messi a stunning ball which Lionel Messi ended up converting, only for it to be ruled out due to a questionable call made from VAR. The Frenkie fiesta was a sight to savour.
Iván Rakitić: 7/10
Iván Rakitić was tasked to occupy the pivot role in Sergio Busquets’ absence, which he played somewhat successfully. Rakitić made some vital tackles as his defensive contribution was noticeable throughout the game, even earning himself an assist for Lenglet’s header. Nonetheless, a needless foul in the final third saw him give away a penalty, which the Italians were able to capitalise on. While the Croatian midfielder did a decent job, Busquets‘ shoes proved to be too big to fill.
Sergi Roberto: 7/10
Sergi Roberto’s performance will go unnoticed by many, but he put in a diligent exhibition with his work ethic helping Barcelona constantly regain possession and move upfield. The Catalan played a valiant role in midfield, despite De Jong stealing all the limelight
Antoine Griezmann: 5.5/10
Although Antoine Griezmann showed glimpses of his undoubted quality, the Frenchman seemed to be snoozing for a majority of the game as his presence was rarely felt. He, as always, managed to be an asset with his work ethic, even so, Griezmann failed to link up with his partners in attack and couldn’t challenge goalkeeper David Ospina on a regular basis. For a player worth 120 million, such standards cannot be set.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
The menacing man was the centre of attention throughout the 90 minutes, mainly in the first half, where he ran riot in attack. Napoli struggled to keep him at bay as he scored an excellently executed goal to broaden the local’s lead. Stumbling and failing to keep his balance in Napoli’s tightly congested box, he left Ospina for dead, scoring a marvellous curler.
Despite an injury scare, no one or nothing could stop Lionel Messi | Photo by Lluís Gené / AFP via Getty Images
Leo went onto wreak further havoc with another goal, but lady luck showed her true colours, preventing Leo from bagging what seemed to be a fair goal. A foul right before the half-time whistle enabled him to win his side a penalty, which Luis Suárez converted with ease.
Luis Suárez: 7/10
Nothing too special, but nothing too discouraging either, which should be perceived as a big win considering Suárez had looked exceedingly shaky since the restart. The Uruguayan scored from the spot and was efficient with his first touch, providing a degree of threat in attack. The goal would do a world of good for his confidence.
Player Ratings: Elche 0-2 Barcelona
With four wins in on the trot in the league, Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona marches on in the hope of overtaking Real Madrid who sit second, three points clear of the Garnet and Blue. Last night’s game against Elche was proof that Barça have what it takes to grind out wins in important games, even if their performance is less than convincing.
A goal each from Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig was enough to etch a 0-2 win for the visitors who will now travel to Madrid to lock horns against Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey round of 16. Meanwhile, Barça Universal runs the rule over the Blaugranas.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8
Barcelona’s captain without the armband continues to come up clutch for Barcelona in the six-yard-box, making stellar saves with each passing game. Yesterday, while the German made only two stops, one of them came post the 75th minute in a high-xG 1v1 scenario.
Oscar Mingueza: 7
Starting in unfamiliar territory, Mingueza coped well with the pressure at right-back. He was solid in the first half and did not let anyone go past him. Additionally, he did well in the attack, continuously whipping in crosses, although with little success. Had an error covered up by ter Stegen, but a solid display nonetheless.
Ronald Araujo: 7.5
Words have started to fall short for Araujo, who, yet again, was on his toes, ready to rescue Barcelona with each passing attack. The Uruguayan won three fouls while committing one himself, and lost possession only 4 times.
Samuel Umtiti: 8
Following his display against Granada, Umtiti got a well-deserved start after two weeks, and was pretty much faultless. A bit conservative in possession, the World Cup winner still managed to create one chance. Without the ball, he was a rock, and nobody was able to get past him on the night.
Jordi Alba: 6.5
The run of underwhelming displays continues for Jordi Alba, who ghosted on the night against Elche, especially in the attack. Did well out of possession, though, making two interceptions, one tackle, and a solitary clearance.
Frenkie de Jong: 9
De Jong woke up and chose violence. He started the game in amazing fashion, progressing the ball immaculately. Got a goal for his rewards, and then etched an assist to his name in the last few minutes, as well, with the most perfectly timed run and pass. Continues to be sensational.
Sergio Busquets: 8
Busquets has started to hold his own in the centre of the park in this formation and had another evening where he was nearly back to his best. The Spaniard conducted the midfield with ease, not allowing the Elche midfield to have the sniff of the ball. Additionally, he also managed to create one chance. Picked up a suspension, though, and will miss the outing against Bilbao.
At just 18, Pedri continues to astound the Barcelona fans, four-folding his standards with each passing game. Yesterday, as well, he made four key passes, completed all his dribbles (4/4), and won two set-pieces. Would have been a perfect night had he gotten an assist, only to be denied by his own overhit passes on two occasions.
Ousmane Dembele: 6
The attack was inarguably the most underwhelming part of Barcelona’s game last night, and understandably so, after playing an insane number of minutes in the past week. Dembele tried his best to get past the Elche defence, but with little to no success, as they stood firmly in place. Additionally, he lost possession a bizarre 21 times in just 74 minutes.
Antoine Griezmann: 6
Griezmann played through the centre on the night, as opposed to the left, where he has been deployed of late. Barring a single key pass for Araujo, the Frenchman did not do a lot, either. He made two great runs, but was denied a shot through poor communication between him and Pedri.
Martin Braithwaite: 6
Rounding off the lineup was Martin Braithwaite, starting on the left. Can be given credit for creating the goal through a brilliant cross, but was otherwise slow in possession, and unable to think on his feet.
Fransisco Trincao: 7
Credit where credit is due, this was probably Trincao’s best cameo for Barcelona. Just when it looked like Barcelona were getting hit back, the Portuguese brought freshness to the wing, and even hit two shots on target. Unfortunately for him, Edgar Badia pulled off two superhuman efforts to deny both his chances.
Riqui Puig: 7
The man of the hour!
Ideally, playing just five minutes would not amount to a 7/10 rating, but Puig practically sealed the game for Barcelona in the 89th minute, meeting de Jong’s cross over two defenders, and scoring his first-ever senior goal. A night he will never forget.