Barcelona’s season continues to go wayward as the Catalan giants fell to defeat against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final. The game headed into Extra Time after Barcelona were unable to defeat their dad on two occasions, but a goal from Inaki Williams as soon as ET started was enough for the Basque outfit to seal the deal for Marcelino’s men. A rather eventful game as is was capped off with a red card to Lionel Messi – the first in his 753 appearances in his club career. Barça Universal runs the rule over Ronald Koeman’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6
Not a lot ter Stegen could do about either of the goals scored by Bilbao, but he did make one clutch save off a Raul Garcia effort in the first half of the game. Deserves to be screened a lot better.
Sergino Dest: 6
Dest was not able to fully recover off of an injury that he picked up some games ago, and consequentially, was subbed off for Oscar Mingueza just when the first-half ended. Combined well with Ousmane Dembele on the right, and won 3/3 of his ground duels.
Ronald Araujo: 7.5
Araujo has been a break-out star this season in the heart of the Barcelona defence, and proved why he is the best defender at the club yesterday. The Uruguayan made some clutch defensive recoveries in his defensive third, and won 5/6 of his aerial duels. He made only one foul in the 120 minutes he played and was arguably the most involved player in each buildup for Barcelona.
Clement Lenglet: 5
Lenglet, yet again, came up clutch – for the opposition -, putting on an embarrassing display in the heart of the team. The Frenchman can be blamed for both of Bilbao’s goals that were scored in regulation time. Needs to do better if he does not want to be replaced once Gerard Pique returns.
Jordi Alba: 6
Jordi Alba is a phenomena — an offensive powerhouse when the team is moving forward, but a defensive disasterclass with each step. He set up both of Barcelona’s goals combining with Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele respectively, but was also at the end of individual errors that led to goals for Barcelona.
Frenkie de Jong: 8
Continuously one of the only positives for Barcelona, Frenkie de Jong continued to put in a lot of effort in the midfield, carrying the ball through the strong winds of press of Marcelino’s midfield. He completed 6/6 of his dribbles, won 12/14 of his ground duels, and 2/3 of his aerial duels. Additionally, the Dutchman won five set pieces through fouls, while only fouling once.
Sergio Busquets: 7
Busquets has clearly picked himself up and dusted himself off since Ronald Koeman’s shift to a single pivot. He was well positioned throughout the game (four interceptions), and was the most involved player in the game with 123 touches of the ball.
Starting his ninth game in a row, 18-year-old Pedri showed immense fatigue in the centre of the pitch yesterday. He was unable to influence the game like he usually does, and was asked to come off in the 88th minute.
Ousmane Dembele: 6
Probably Dembele has set up a bar too high for himself as of late, and his less-than-spectacular performance seemed underwhelming yesterday. He did not look as dynamic as he usually does, which is understandable coming off the back of a 120 minute performance against Real Sociedad.
Lionel Messi: 4
Lionel Messi was arguably not fit enough to start in the finals but had to make it through owing to the importance of the fixture. All his good work was undone when he picked up a red card after what was a shameful off the ball foul, which earned him a red card in the 120th minute, further putting Barcelona in jeopardy.
Antoine Griezmann: 8.5
Griezmann was inarguably the best player for Barcelona yesterday, scoring his second brace in four games. He opened the scoring for Barcelona in the first half, and then helped took the lead again in the second. All his hard work was undone, though, as the Catalan giants lost the final. The World Cup winner did not shy away from showing his frustration in the post-game presser, where he said he was, “Fu*ked, annoyed, and angry.”
Oscar Mingueza: 5
Miralem Pjanic: 5
Martin Braithwaite: 4
Riqui Puig: N/A
Fransisco Trincao: N/A
Barcelona player ratings vs Sevilla — Hosts unable to get past Mingueza, the wall
Turning headless chickens into mature students of the game turned out to be Ronald Koeman’s biggest achievement at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where the Catalan giants had recently just suffered a disappointing loss. On the score-sheet, the margin may not have looked considerable, but on the field, Barcelona were pretty much untouchable, courtesy in large parts to the structural change made by Koeman.
A performance this cohesive and harmonized was much needed after the countless defeats Barça have suffered on the big stage. Everything Cules have strived to see in this team, was present, and while consistency has been the club’s biggest hurdle, this win undoubtedly holds a great deal of significance.
The Blaugranas have arguably exerted more energy in other games over the course of the campaign, but the spirit Barcelona lacked suddenly came to life. The pressing was in sync, every move was calculated and well crafted. Playing the Barcelona way in hostile territory against a team as dominant as Sevilla brought back life into a team devoid of wins in high magnitude encounters.
Marc-André Ter Stegen: 7
Ter Stegen oozed confidence as he came off his line and claimed the ball several times. Not only did he display composure, but the German rushed out of his box on one occasion to clear the ball and remove any danger that Sevilla’s potential attack possessed. With the exception of a poor pass, his distribution was immaculate. Even so, it must be admitted that the Sevilla forwards barely tested ter Stegen in goal with dangerous attempts on target.
Oscar Mingueza: 8.5
Oscar Mingueza was a vital reason as to why the Blaugrana defence was impenetrable. Piementa’s prodigy did not allow Lopetegui’s men to advance into any areas on the right side of the field. He won 6 out his 9 duels along winning 5 tackles, proving the 21-year-old’s precise ball-winning abilities remain crucial. Not to mention, his exceptional ball-playing ability enabled Barça to play with a high line thus applying further pressure on Sevilla.
Pique was the nail in the coffin to Barça’s counter-pressing strategies. The players would press the Sevilla Keeper and force him to heave the ball away, and this is where Pique’s aerial ability flourished, which particularly authorized the Catalans to regain possession. The Spanish veteran won 5 out of 7 of his aerial duels, thus showing his dominance in that area of play. His distribution was reliable as always and allowed the Catalans to retain a high defensive line at selected times.
The Frenchman is on route to recovering the form he once had, and this performance should do his confidence a world of good. Still prone to making errors, he dealt with Sevilla’s threat in a respectable manner. An improvement was observed in his ability to stay ahead of his man, which led to his positioning being marginally better. His second-half performance was key to the win as he stepped up after Pique and Ronald Araujo had to be subbed off. Lenglet must be appreciated for his tackling as they successfully neutralized a few well-structured attacks from the hosts.
Sergiño Dest: 7
Despite typically being perceived as a full-back, Ronald Koeman handed Dest the responsibility to play higher up the field as a right-wing-back. The American speedster enjoyed his new role with piercing runs behind Sevilla’s defence and looked a lot more explosive, with defensive cover behind him.
Sergino Dest vs Sevilla:— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) February 28, 2021
• Touches: 58
• Accurate passes: 36/42 (86%)
• Shots: 2
• Ground duels (won): 4 (2)
• Fouls won: 2
• Clearances: 2
• Interceptions: 2
— SofaScore pic.twitter.com/IjN74fDwhc
Dest launched a couple of promising crosses, but a major issue was that he shied away from entering 1v1 duels and instinctively looked to send in crosses. The US international also came oh-so-close to scoring after striking the post on one occasion.
Jordi Alba: 7.5
Similar to his wing-back partner in crime, Jordi Alba raided forward at any given opportunity, stretching the play wide and utilizing his raw pace throughout. Without having to worry about his defensive duties, the marauding Spaniard looked a lot more imposing. He was just inches away from tapping the ball into the opposition net after proceedings.
Frenkie de Jong: 8.5
De Jong’s season just proceeds to take massive leaps as the Dutchman proved to be a defining factor in the Catalans’ applaudable 2-0 victory. In spite of not stamping his name on the score-sheet, De Jong’s performance was worthy of endless praise, almost making it seem as if he was carrying around an extra pair of lungs. The former Ajax wonderboy surged forward, breaking the opposition’s lines tirelessly and constantly squirming his way out of tight areas.
Sergio Busquets: 7.5
The ageing veteran appeared to be recreating glimpses from the past as his counter-pressing was absolutely decisive in the Catalans’ attacking plays. Sergio Busquets – unlike most big game he has participated in – was not cheaply bullied off the ball and made possession purposeful for the Blaugranas. With defensive aid behind him, Busquets was back to his brilliant best.
The cog in Ronald Koeman’s midfield was once again a trusty figure in midfield and managed to string together some impressive plays in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation. Though Pedri’s involvement was substantially lower than usual, his display was mainly impeded by an injury he suffered in the 71st minute, disabling him from completing the full 90 minutes.
Lionel Messi: 8.5
Against his favourite opposition, Lionel Messi savoured the occasion to the fullest. The Argentine was an influential figure in the club’s victory away from home, with his creativity and efficiency in front of goal second to none. In the 29th minute of the game, Leo spotted a raiding Ousmane Dembélé through on goal as he bagged himself an assist for the Frenchman’s finish.
To cap off his outing, Barcelona’s captain weaved his way past a couple of Sevilla defenders and, after failing to chip the keeper, delicately slotted it into the net.
Ousmane Dembélé: 8
Sevilla were haplessly left chasing Ousmane Dembélé’s shadows. The Frenchman – without having to worry about his defensive tasks – waltzed forward continuously and enjoyed playing as a secondary striker, making runs in behind the defence and eventually proving his worth with a beautifully placed goal just before the half-hour mark. A much more mature and composed exhibition from the electric winger.
Ilaix Moriba: 7
Ronald Araujo: N/A
Martin Braithwaite: N/A
Samuel Umtiti: N/A