Barcelona hosted Real Betis at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on matchday 5 of La Liga, in a bid to keep up the pace with their rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table.
Their nervy start to the season, which has been marred by injuries, finally saw a confidence-inspiring display against Los Verdiblancos for a sensational 5-0 win, with some resolute defending and clinical attacking.
While Real Betis had some clear-cut chances of their own, the Catalans managed to hold on and claim the most assured win they have had so far this season, with a five-star performance.
Here are the Catalans’ individual displays dissected from Saturday evening’s fixture on an evening where hardly anyone put a foot wrong.
Marc Andre ter Stegen: 7.5/10
Did not put a foot wrong, distributed perfectly and made a huge save to deny Willian Jose in the dying embers of the first half to keep Barcelona’s 2-0 lead intact heading into the break.
Joao Cancelo: 9/10
Making his first start for Barcelona, Cancelo showed his class with some great driving runs into the opposition half and inverted really well to generate numerical superiority for Barcelona in the midfield.
Also made some terrific tackles and recoveries, one of which was particularly important, leading to the opening goal.
He added the sweetener in the final ten minutes with another stellar run, a deadly feint and clinical finish to cap it all off.
Jules Kounde: 7.5/10
Despite a couple of nervy moments, the Frenchman continued his assured performances at centre-back, showing some great composure while carrying the ball forward as well.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
Shrugged off injury concerns and produced a commanding presence at the back, as we have come to expect since last season.
The Dane was also credited with an assist for Robert Lewandowski’s goal to make it 2-0, one of 71 passes he completed with 96% accuracy.
Alejandro Balde: 7.5/10
Explosive as ever, Balde was a constant nuisance down the left flank, forcing the Real Betis midfielders and full-backs to take a step back, reducing their offensive threat and leading to some tentative defending.
Frenkie de Jong: 8/10
The 26-year-old’s fine form continued with another rock-solid display, as he circulated the ball well and was always available as an option going forward or when tracking back.
He made five recoveries, an interception, two clearances and won 100% of his duels.
Oriol Romeu: 8.5/10
Romeu’s masterful midfield performances continued, as he keeps proving himself as one of the revelations of the season.
The 31-year-old imposed himself defensively with some wonderful tackles and astute positioning while keeping things ticking with some wonderful circulation of the ball, even notching an assist with a great ball into the box for the opener.
Ferran Torres: 8.5/10
Looking to be a player reborn, Ferran was handed his first start of the campaign and he did not disappoint.
Worked hard off the ball, was sharp in his movement, and provided more attacking impetus than Barcelona have enjoyed recently.
And as if that was not enough, ‘the Shark’ scored a sensational free-kick as his last involvement of the game to cap things off, also breaking Barcelona’s jinx for goals from dead-balls since the departure of a certain Lionel Messi.
While tenacity has come to be the teenager’s middle name, Gavi continued to display his brilliance on the ball as well, making a couple of line-breaking passes, turning on a dime and creating space brilliantly aside from his usual intensity tracking back and in regaining possession.
Robert Lewandowski: 8/10
The Pole looked much more confident and involved than he has been for a while, slotting home Barcelona’s second with a lovely finish in a season that started off with a lot of concerns.
Today, however, his movement was better and he generally seemed a lot more involved in the play, liberated a lot by Joao Felix’s dynamism.
Joao Felix: 9/10
Another player making his first start for Barcelona, Felix cast aside all the clouds of doubt with an incredible performance, as the Portuguese looked the happiest – and deadliest – version of himself in weeks.
Scoring the first after some deft reactions, Felix was a constant threat running with the ball, pulling out some wonderful tricks and flicks, as well as a terrific dummy for Lewandowski’s goal – as good as an assist itself.
Lamine Yamal: 6/10
A solid cameo from the young prodigy, as he kept up the attacking intensity and also treated the viewers with a lovely nutmeg.
Talk about a superb return to action; Raphinha came back from his suspension in an electric cameo, scoring a great drive from outside the box just two minutes after his introduction.
Ilkay Gundogan: 6.5/10
Assured on the ball and seemed unbothered by his back injury that had rendered him unable to start.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
In a short and simple appearance off the bench, the Spaniard did not do much wrong and saw off the result.
Inigo Martinez: 5.5/10
Came on in the final 14 minutes and helped keep the clean sheet intact, but was also booked.