Barcelona salvaged an exceedingly convincing performance on the road against Juventus as Ronald Koeman’s men came out with all 3 points at the Allianz Stadium. Despite only registering 2 goals on the scorecard, the character and fluency displayed by Barca seemed to be unmatched. After their disappointing 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid, this performance proved to be the ideal compensation. Here are how the players fared at hostile territory:
The Brazilian shot-stopper was rewarded for the valiant efforts he previously exhibited against Real Madrid with a clean sheet yesterday. Although Neto was forced to pick the ball out of his net on three separate occasions, all three goals were ruled out as offside, allowing him to have a fairly comfortable game between the sticks.
The former Juventus man remained untested whenever his former had legitimate chances to score and was immensely reliable with his distribution. Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s throne is proving to be in safe hands thus far.
Sergi Roberto: 7
Starting over Sergiño Dest was an unexpected sight, especially after the American sensation lit up the show in the Clásico. However, Roberto once again proved to cherish the big occasion, silencing Chiesa in the defensive third and providing constant support moving upfield.
Ronald Araújo: 7
Replacing the sanctioned Gerard Piqué, Ronald Araújo was an imposing figure at the heart of the defence, showing a great deal of conviction while committing tackles and positioning himself. Winning a majority of his ground duels, the Uruguayan also managed to form a solid duo with Clement Lenglet. However, his night was cut short with the promising centre-back going off at half-time after picking up a slight knock to the knee.
Clement Lenglet: 7
It was encouraging to see Lenglet gradually grow into the game and solidify his presence with inch-perfect tackles, accurate distribution of the ball and admirable awareness. Even so, while the Frenchman’s performance after proceedings was considerably convincing, it wasn’t truly enough to mask his inept positioning in the first half. Without Gerard Piqué anchoring the back-line, the Frenchman was frequently caught off guard and mispositioned.
Jordi Alba: 7.5
The engine that never ran out of fuel and the speedster that knew no limits: Jordi Alba was a constant threat bursting up on the left flank. He seemed to combine well with 17-year-old Pedri Gonzalez and was a menacing figure for Juventus’ defence in certain moments of the game.
He did his job as part of the backline as well, winning four out of his eight ground duels. Alba generated a couple of prominent goalscoring chances as he is beginning to bring back his best version.
Miralem Pjanic: 8
Pjanic was gargantuan in the middle of the park. (Photo by Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto)
Miralem Pjanic showed no sympathy towards his ex-club, cutting off former ties with a well-worked performance. He completed an insane amount of passes and never let the Juventus press dismantle him. It could be argued that he did not possess the defensive solidity Busquets typically provides, but his overall contribution on and off the ball must not go unnoticed. Always kept things moving in the centre of the park.
Frenkie De Jong: 7
Frenkie seemed to have finally picked up his form, showcasing a very encouraging first-half performance. Partnering alongside Pjanic always seems to do him a world of good as he seems far more liberated and flexible. Although in the second half he had to play as a centre-back, given Araújo suffered an injury, De Jong’s training at Ajax bore him fruit to this day.
Ousmane Dembele: 7
Dembele’s explosiveness gave the Catalans a huge edge over the Italians in the opening stages of the game as he quickly repaid Koeman’s trust in him with a goal in the 14th minute. Although he did miss a few notable goalscoring chances, the Frenchman did well to restrain himself from losing possession habitually.
Dembele’s dribbling and tidy footwork were in display. His presence always serves as a wild card for the team, an individual bringing elements completely out of the box.
Antoine Griezmann: 7
Griezmann looked part of the team yesterday. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)
Griezmann arguably exhibited his most influential performance under Ronald Koeman, looking significantly confident with the ball at his feet. The Frenchman was incredibly unlucky to have hit the post early on in the game and also missed a terrific 1 on 1 opportunity.
Nevertheless, he was effective in combining with his teammates and seemed to drag centre-backs, opening up spaces for the likes of Messi and Pedri. Playing the perfect complementary role upfront, the World Cup winner is gradually regaining his long lost form.
Pedri may be slender and flimsy to the eyes, but with the ball at his feet, he’s the prototype Barcelona player. The 17-year-old gem was situated on the left flank, where he did not clash frequently with teammates surrounding him and displayed one of his best performances in a Blaugrana shirt.
Constantly luring pressure and cheekily getting out of tight areas, he sent opposition players spinning in circles, particularly Juan Cuadrado. While it was obvious he contributed heavily up front, the prodigy’s dedication in defence just went onto justify his immense talent.
Lionel Messi 8.5/10
The Argentine talisman always elevates to great heights on Champions League nights, especially in the group stages, which was once again reflected on the field against Juventus. While it almost feels like ages since Messi scored from open play, his general performance was simply awe-inspiring.
Messi looked liberated yesterday; almost as if something weighing on him was freed up in the last couple of days. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)
He managed to provide a terrific assist for Dembele’s goal and then scored one himself from the penalty spot. Still, truth be told, even without those goal contributions, Messi was feeling like his usual self, taking on players with tremendous assurance. Wonder what changed at the club that triggered this performance.