Yesterday provided Barca fans with a spark of hope after Atletico Madrid handed Ronald Koeman’s side a lifeline back into the title race. But just like midweek, that pre-game hope of grabbing that lifeline was squashed by another disappointing result, this time at the hands of Cadiz.
Barca were trying to make it 8 wins in a row in La Liga, and the Catalan side controlled the game for 84 minutes, which is when Cadiz decided to start pressing the ball. But once again, in a movie we’ve all seen before, the second this team comes under any bit of serious pressure, someone in the backline tends to collapse under it.
Here’s how the Barcelona players dared against Cadiz in today’s game and the ratings we believe they deserve for their performances.
Marc-André Ter Stegen: 6.5
Didn’t have a lot to do today, as Cadiz opted for a low block/counter-attacking strategy. Claimed the ball when needed and played it out quickly when Cadiz were someway out of shape. A quiet day at the office for the German number one and will be disappointed with giving up a nailed on clean sheet.
Sergiño Dest: 7
Sergino Dest put the disheartening experience of Tuesday night behind him with an excellent display today. He was used very high up the pitch to stretch the Cadiz defence, which allowed space to combine with Dembele to create chances.
The fullback was very effective in his timing of overlaps and got in behind the Cadiz line multiple times. The final ball was not always perfect but not barely always down to him due to a lack of options inside the box. Showed great strength for the disallowed Pedri goal.
Overall, it was a really encouraging display from the 20-year-old.
Gerard Piqué: 6.5
Pique had a quiet afternoon until the end of the game, where he was thrown up top to rescue the 3 points. Finished the game with a 97% pass completion rate, one of which was a brilliant long ball over the top to find a Dembele run.
Clément Lenglet: 5.5
With 2 minutes to go, Lenglet would be getting an 8 for what was a near-perfect display up until then. The Frenchman dealt with Cadiz’ long balls very well, winning 5 aerial duels against their frontmen, which resulted in Negredo being subbed just before the hour mark. He found Alba with some lovely passes and tried to split their defence with a few long balls.
However, that controlled performance will be quickly forgotten by Cúlers, as his liabilities shone through yet again. A ridiculous mistake cost his side the three points, and it will be added to the list of mistakes of the people who don’t want him near the starting 11.
Jordi Alba: 6.5
Just like Dest, Alba found himself playing very high up the pitch. He didn’t get involved as much as his fellow fullback but created a few good chances, particularly in the first half. Made some good runs in an attempt to break the lines but needed to be more clinical once receiving the ball.
The Spanish international got caught defensively in the first half, which let to Cadiz’ best open play chance through Sobrino and overall wasn’t anything special today.
Frenkie de Jong: 6.5
Did his best to get involved today by making runs into the box for crosses, which didn’t turn out to be effective. This was best summed up with his disallowed goal, which he narrowly mistimed his run. Did well to progress the ball and made some excellent runs to try and break Cadiz’s defensive lines.
Moved back to the pivot when Busquets went off and lost his influence in the attacking game.
Sergio Busquets: 8.5
After being singled out during the week, Sergio Busquets had a fantastic performance today. He pressed well when Cadiz tried to transition, won aerial duels when they kicked it long, tackled effectively and made key passes throughout the game, all culminating in an influential display. The highlight of this display was a delightful through ball to Messi, which did not result in a goal, unfortunately.
To be picky, he could have done better to track Sobrino during the build-up to his chance but overall a fantastic performance from the Spaniard.
Seemed to be everywhere on the pitch, Pedri wasted very little today with a 92% pass completion rate and created key chances for his teammates. Every pass was quick, with the chip over the top for Messi standing out. Showed determination to get to the ball to win the penalty and was very successful in recovering the ball when it was turned over. Another display that highlights this potential superstar’s talent.
Ousmane Dembélé: 7
Dembele showed today why he was originally signed for the club. His speed is frightening, his ability to switch from left to right with such ease is dazzling, and overall, he is a constant nightmare for defenders in fill-swing.
He linked up well with Dest throughout the first half, which was Barca’s main side of attack and cut in-side a lot to create chances for both himself and his teammates.
We were inches away from a goal of the season contender when he burst past 5 defenders before narrowly putting it wide.
Lionel Messi: 7
Today saw Messi reach yet another career milestone breaking Xavi’s record for La Liga appearances for Barca with his 506 appearances for the club. He marked this occasion with a goal, adding Cadiz to the list of La Liga opponents he has scored against.
Throughout the game, he was Barca’s biggest threat and had multiple chances to score. He was fluid amongst the front three, and Cadiz struggled to get control of him throughout the game. Could have possibly been a little more clinical in front of goal, but against a Cadiz defence who defended well, that is only a minor criticism.
Antoine Griezmann: 5.5
Griezmann looked like a player lacking confidence and his influence on the game was minimal. He was seen getting caught in possession and giving the ball away with stray passes often. This was another display that can be added to the day to forget folder of the Frenchman.
Martin Braithwaite: 6
Miralem Pjanic: 5.5
Riqui Puig: 6
Oscar Mingueza: 6
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Osasuna — Ilaix, Trincao to replace Pedri, Dembele
A last gasp equaliser brought action of the highest calibre into a dramatic game at the Camp Nou against Sevilla. With the odds against them, Ronald Koeman’s side once again overturned a deficit and came back to win the game. It had happened in Granada and it did happen once again, this time over two legs.
Emotions ran high, celebrations went beserk and rightfully so. It had been years since Barcelona experienced that kind of adrenaline and positivity about themselves. Kudos to Ronald Koeman, for he has instilled an unquenchable thirst amongst the same crop of players that were once said to be ‘mentally weak’.
The weekend promises to be an eventful one for La Liga. The scheduled Madrid Derby provides massive opportunity for both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid to drop points. Meanwhile, Barcelona will look to pick up all the three points away at Osasuna to bridge that gap. The League could be a realistic shot of this weekend goes as planned. Or so they say. Here is how Barcelona could lineup against Osasuna.
If anyone still has acquaintances who say Marc-Andre ter Stegen disappears in big games, do not hesitate to put forth the clash against Sevilla. At a time when everything seemed lost, Ter Stegen pulled Barcelona out of the mud again. A sensational penalty save under the highest of pressure. He will certainly hold onto his spot on Saturday.
Gerard Pique’s injury against Sevilla has now left him a doubt even for the clash against PSG next week. That said, Koeman could likely look to revert back to his 4-3-3 approach.
Oscar Mingueza and Clement Lenglet would be the best possible centre-half pairing given the options available. While Mingueza did indeed give away a penalty, his individual performance midweek was one of the highest quality. The youngster impressed yet again with his calm, yet ‘no nonsense’ attitude.
Lenglet on the other hand has been dormant for Barcelona. In recent weeks, despite not doing any harm, he has not even produced any match-defining moments. It does appear that the Frenchman is slowly regaining his confidence. Saturday will undoubtedly be a huge step forward for him if the Catalans do maintain a clean sheet.
Sergino Dest continues to be the first choice Right back this season, moreover so with Sergi Roberto injured. However, that spark going forward that the world witnessed in his first few games is now not to be found. The American international has been superb in defence, yet there is a sentiment that he is capable of so much more going forward.
Jordi Alba will continue to hold onto his spot at the left-back. Whenever Barcelona have found themselves in a pressure cooker situation, the Spaniard has stepped it up a notch. With yet another assist in his tally, Alba looks more confident than ever.
Despite all the criticism constantly hurled at him, Sergio Busquets has been almost flawless in his last few appearances. Defensively more solid than ever and actually now covering more ground than before, we could be seeing the resurgence of a new version of the Spanish defensive midfielder. He will start as the deep midfielder on the night
After an injury scare and another stressful game immediately after injury, Pedri might be rested on Saturday. In his place, one could expect Ilaix Moriba to get his second start. The La Masia talent has been mature beyond his years, and an influential cog in both of Barcelona’s wins last week. This could be his time to shine.
Frenkie de Jong will round up the midfield. The Dutchman’s renewed role has brought out the best in him as well as the team. He has now finally cemented his place as an undisputed and deserved starter in every game. He will play as the advanced midfielder on the night.
Antoine Griezmann has been benched for three starts in a row. Though the decision might be tactical, it clearly shows that if the coach has a high-pressure clash which is a must-win scenario, he doesn’t count on the Frenchman. Griezmann ultimately did come off the bench and deliver the assist for Gerard Pique’s last gasp equaliser. However, the #7 will be more determined than ever to find a way back into Koeman’s main XI. The first step to that goal? A great showing against Osasuna.
Lionel Messi will continue to lead from the centre forward role as he looks to extend his lead in the Pichchi race. The Argentine has had a sublime 2021, and a goal or two against Osasuna would reiterate his blistering form.
With Ousmane Dembele too suffering an injury scare, Koeman would prefer to stay on the conservative side. Fransisco Trincao provides a more than a potent backup option, and the Portuguese winger could get a start come Saturday on the right-wing.
Griezmann · Messi · Trincao
Ilaix · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Pique · Dest
Riqui Puig has not been used in the past few games, understandably due to the physicality involved in these clashes. Tonight could be the time to once again unleash the youngster in the latter half of the game.
Miralem Pjanic is back from injury, and has received the medical green light. The Bosnian could replace Sergio Busquets in the second half to provide the Spaniard with some much-needed rest and rotation.
Ousmane Dembele could too come on in the second half, to open up and exploit spaces if Barcelona are chasing a goal.