The games continued to come hard and fast for Barcelona as they travelled to the Basque capital in Spain to take on Deportivo Alaves in La Liga today evening.
Coming off a narrow 1-0 win over Osasuna, Xavi’s men knew a win today could increase the pressure on Real Madrid, who will host Atletico Madrid tomorrow.
Right from the get-go, Barcelona looked far more composed and in control of the game, understandably not taking many risks with multiple players playing out of position.
Ilkay Gundogan found the way through for Robert Lewandowski in the first half with a superb through ball as the Pole opened the scoring.
A few heroic efforts from Inaki Pena kept Barcelona in the game, as they scored the second early on in the second half, with Gundo turning scoring this time with an insane volley.
The Catalan lost focus in the minutes after, and conceded a header from Samu, but made amends through Vitor Roque, who slotted the ball beautifully into the bottom corner.
The Brazilian was unfairly sent off ten minutes later, though, but it had no impact on the scoreline, fortunately. A convincing three points on the road.
Inaki Pena: 7
An encouraging performance from Inaki Pena in what could be his last game as a starter, this season, at least. Rushed out to collect the ball on various occasions, and parried the most dangerous chance of the game brilliantly.
Can be questioned for very poor movement for Samu’s goal, though.
Jules Kounde: 7.5
Comfortable in possession, Kounde played the ball out of pressure very well. Did an impressive job covering in defence, too, making some important clearances.
Ronald Araujo: 7
An almost proper captain’s performance from Araujo. Gave Samu a ton of trouble, marking him out of the game, but eventually lost him in the box as the teenager scored.
The improvement in his passing deserves an honourable mention, too. Broke lines like a seasoned veteran, and was not once looked under any sort of pressure despite Alaves pressing high.
Pau Cubarsi: 7.5
Playing far beyond his years, Cubarsi was excellent in defence, again. Played the ball out of danger multiple times, and put his body on the line to block shots and intercept passes.
Joao Cancelo: 5.5
Easily the most troubled of the back-four as his attacking instinct meant Alaves had a lot of space behind him. Cancelo had trouble dealing with Tenaglia and Sola on his wing. Not that impressive with the ball, either, today.
Ilkay Gundogan: 9
Gundogan led by example yet again, grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck and dictating every single move that Barcelona created. Found the perfect pass for Lewandowski, who converted.
Found his way into the box with superb movement to score the second with an outrageous and bizarre volley. Had to go off injured, though.
Andreas Christensen: 7
Playing in a slightly foreign position as the pivot, Christensen looked slightly uncomfortable at the start of the game.
Understandbly immobile, he needed Frenkie de Jong’s support to play out the ball from midfield, but did a solid job screening the backline with his clearances and tackles.
Frenkie de Jong: 7.5
A few sketchy passing decisions here and there from de Jong today, but he cannot be faulted for his work as the deepest midfielder in possession. Made Christensen’s job a lot easier, and kept the build-up ticking.
Lamine Yamal: 7.5
Looked visibly not as sharp in the first-half after playing nearly 400 minutes across the last four games. Put in an excellent defensive shift, though.
Got much more space in the second half, though, and proved his worth, essentially creating the third goal and leaving several defenders in the ground multiple times.
Robert Lewandowski: 7.5
Finally a performance from Lewandowski worth talking about. Not only did he open the scoring, but was also far more involved today. Made runs that ruffled the Alaves backline, and combined well with the midfielders, not wasting time on the ball.
Barcelona fans were probably expecting a lot more from Pedri in an advanced position, but he could not quite influence the game as he would have liked, especially in the first half.
However, his superb pass to find Gundogan doubled Barcelona’s lead, and he has to be credited for that.
Hector Fort: 6.5
Had a ton of trouble dealing with Alex Sola initially, who left him for dead to create Alaves’ goal. Sort of redeemed himself by assisting Vitor Roque, though, and only improved from there.
Vitor Roque: 7.5
Came on in the 59th minute, and scored his second goal in his second game with a sensational left-footed finish. Was sent off ten minutes later, through no fault of his own, but some terrible refereeing.
Fermin Lopez: 6
Helped maintain the intensity in defence with his tracking and speed, but otherwise not much influence.