Barcelona could not have made a bigger mess of a game against the lowest placed team in La Liga. On the start of what is an extended away tour, the Catalans dominated the hosts. So much so, that Huesca recorded an xG of 0.0 at the end of the first period.
Barcelona pressed relentlessly, covering inch after inch of turf with the same determination as they had in the opening minute. As one would expect from the Catalans, they dominated the possession and the proceedings. However, it still boiled down to the same nervy ten-minute spell in the dying minutes when they had to defend a one-goal lead.
The performance was impressive, yet lacked the final product. Chance after chance came the way of Ronald Koeman’s side, as they colossally failed to find the back of the net at every juncture. There were positives and their equivalent share of negatives in a sweet-sour outing for the side in yellow and red. Barça Universal brings to you the player ratings from Barcelona vs Huesca.
Marc Andre ter Stegen: 8.5
It’s often how we react under the most sudden challenges that define our greatness. On Sunday night, ter Stegen found himself in one of the same. A horribly misplaced backpass from Sergio Busquets found the German shot-stopper in a tricky situation. The aerial backpass was well above the goalkeepers head and en route to being an own goal.
Yet, despite not being able to use his hands, ter Stegen stayed calm and composed to display his immense awareness of the ball, and prevented what would have been an unfair equalizer. Besides, three saves from inside the box in the second period is a good enough performance for a goalkeeper on any day.
Clement Lenglet: 7
It was a night where defenders did not have much to do, with Huesca hardly threatening any counter-play. Lenglet only had to make the one interception in the 90 minutes of the game. Nevertheless, his passing range was spot on, and the Frenchman recorded two key passes to cap off a solid performance
Ronald Araujo: 7.5
A quiet night at work for Araujo, in a game that was practically a defensive day off. Yet, the Uruguayan was calm on the rare occasion that Huesca attacked. He was more involved in defence than his partner with three clearances, two interceptions and two tackles. Araujo seems to have put the horrors of Eibar behind him, and that can only be a good thing.
Sergino Dest: 6
On a night when Dest literally had to make zero defensive contributions, one would have expected the American to unleash his ruthless form going forward. However, the right-back has a passive outing, with nothing solid to offer going front.
He did not put any step wrong, but he could have put many more steps right. Oscar Mingueza eventually replaced him in the 75th minute.
Jordi Alba: 7
Jordi Alba had a considerably better outing going forward when compared to his fellow full-back. The Spaniard recorded three key passes on the night and was a constant threat combining with Ousmane Dembele. Like the other defenders, he didn’t have much of a role at the back-half of the field.
Frenkie de Jong: 8.5
The difference-maker in the game. De Jong was the only man who could direct the ball into the net amidst the volley of chances that Barcelona saw. His perfectly timed run complemented by his spatial awareness and silky smooth touch saw the Catalans run away with all three points.
Apart from the goal too, the #21 had a decent game. He combined well with Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi and dictated the overall flow of the game.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5
Having a game without much defensive trouble could have been the best thing to happen to Sergio’s morale. The absence of defensive duties helped his free up his play and involve more players in the buildup. He finished the game with over 95% pass accuracy
Two massive chances in the opening period, both missed. Pedri had a real shot of being the hero of The game once again, but couldn’t capitalize. However, it was a night when all four forwards failed to capitalize on their chances, and singling out the youngster would be unjustified. That said, his dribbling and positional play were on point. The Messi-Pedri connection continues to grow.
Lionel Messi: 8
Messi had a rather frustrating day, yet heavily impactful at the same time. Struggles in front of goal continue to haunt the Argentine, but don’t hinder him from inspiring the team. In the end, it boiled down to his gorgeous ball through to de Jong that fetched the visitors the win.
Ousmane Dembele: 8.5
Dembele was Barcelona’s most lethal threat going forward and by quite a distance. His blistering pace and smooth dribbling left Michel with no answers. The French winger had three shots on goal, all saved by Alvaro Fernandez. It was Dembele that set up the initial chance that was squandered by Pedri too. If anything, this was a reiteration of the importance of a winger in this team.
Martin Braithwaite: 5.5
Starting as the centre-forward and finishing the game with zero shots is just a nightmare for a striker. Braithwaite continuously tried to get involved, however, just couldn’t find his rhythm. The Dane barely offered any cutting-edge going forward, and his presence was not even felt later in the game.
Miralem Pjanic: 6.5
Miralem Pjanic replaced Busquets in the closing 15 minutes of the game. It wasn’t enough time for the Bosnian to impress. However, Pjanic did not make any mistakes and continued to carry on the role that Busquets played during the game.
Antoine Griezmann: 6
Coming on for an ineffective Mertin Braithwaite, Griezmann did not offer a whole lot more. In his ten minutes of play, he saw just four touches with nothing solid created.
Oscar Mingueza: 7
Sergino Dest has been overburdened in the last month and using Mingueza as a back-up was always on the cards. The experiment paid off decently, as the La Masia graduate did not seem to struggle overtly in a new position.
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Barcelona: Match Review
As Barcelona continued their quest to win the King’s Cup, Ronald Koeman experimented. Riqui Puig, to everyone’s surprise, started after scoring his first goal with his boyhood side on the weekend.
Barcelona had an unlucky start to the night with their captain back. The Catalans had many chances and could have won a penalty early on. Francisco Trincão was taken down in the box, but the lack of VAR denied him of a spot-kick.
Lionel Messi, back after two games of suspended, sent a cross right on Ronald Araujo’s head but Stole Dimitrievski was too good. Frenkie de Jong then found the crossbar following a superb cross from Junior Firpo. The midfielder’s effort on the woodwork would follow with Puig, who had a golden chance. Trincão scuffed a shot in front of the Rayo keeper, and the Spaniard had the ball in front of the net. The youngster’s shot ended on the goalpost, and Barça would remain goalless.
Overall, not the worst performance from the Catalans. Sure, they could have scored two or three had they not lacked some finishing, but they thoroughly dominated Rayo away from home.
The first half display did not dishearten Rayo. The locals continued their relentless counter-attacks against a slow Barça team.
The visitors were so slow that Rayo capitalised. Álvaro García danced past Clément Lenglet. Neto could not handle the ball and Francisco García, a Real Madrid loanee, put his side in front. Barcelona had to be rescued, and on came Jordi Alba, Ousmane Dembélé and Pedri.
Neither of the three starters were needed to get the leveller, however. Instead, a work of art from three starters levelled the game for the hopeless Catalans. De Jong found Antoine Griezmann’s run and the Frenchman’s pass made it easy for Messi to score in an empty net. Messi then repaid the Dutchman with a superb chip to Alba, who found the Dutchman lurking in acres of space. Another tap-in put Barça in front for the first time in the game.
Watch De Jong’s goal after a brilliant play from Messi:
Messi creates the play and De Jong finishes it 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jToTIkq2hH— MessiTeam (@Lionel10Team) January 27, 2021
All in all, after a desperate start, Barcelona advanced. Off to the quarters for a side that will go back home on the 31st against Athletic.
Barcelona: Neto; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Junior (68′ Pedri); De Jong, Busquets, Riqui Puig (68′ Alba); Trincao (68′ Dembélé), Messi, Griezmann
Rayo Vallecano: Dimitrievski; Fernandez (84′ Advincula), Saveljich, Marugan, Martos (84′ Camacho); Comesana; Martin, Trejo, Montiel (56′ Rivera), Garcia; Qasmi