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.
Sergio Busquets: 7
Ansu Fati: 6.5
Junior Firpo: N/A
Martin Braithwaite: 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