Barcelona were hoping to put in a better performance today than they did at the weekend against Real Sociedad as they took on Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League group stages.
While Xavi’s men managed to control the game better, they were still lacklustre going forward, with little to no creativity to show for in the first 45 minutes.
Shakhtar had all the better chances, and were eventually rewarded for their efforts with a brilliantly worked goal, courtesy of Danylo Siken, five minutes before half-time.
With an uphill task awaiting them in the second half, Barcelona were slightly better and more motivated, but lacked that final pass in Shakhtar’s half.
Eventually, Barcelona’s dreams of early progression from the group were punctured as the Ukranian outfit took home all three points from the affair.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6.5
Did well to distribute the ball, and made a few decent saves. Not much to write home about.
Joao Cancelo: 7.5
A much better performance from Joao Cancelo today after the weekend. He drifted in to join the midfield and circulated the ball brilliantly. Kickstarted attacks and defended brilliantly, especially in 1v1 situations.
Ronald Araujo: 6
Was a monster for the first 40 minutes, dealing with attacks single-handedly and clearing away danger. Was caught slightly out of position for Shakhtar’s goal, though, and then picked up a silly yellow card soon after.
Andreas Christensen: 5
Christensen’s inclusion in the starting lineup definitely improved Barcelona’s build-up from the back. However, he did a horrible job marking Sikan for the goal, which is unforgivable.
Marcos Alonso: 5
Once again, Alonso’s inclusion in the XI added nothing going forward for Barcelona. Was inside his own box during the goal for some reason, leaving Torres 1v1 with Gocholeishvlli, who whipped in the perfect cross.
One of the poorer perfomances from Gavi, who could not create much against Shakhtar’s excellent mid-block.
Oriol Romeu: 7.5
Romeu was one of the better performers for Barcelona today, primarily due to a lack of high press posed on him. That said, he did well to advance the ball from midfield, and even created a couple of chances, both squandered by Torres and Lewandowski.
Ilkay Gundogan: 8.5
A step and a half ahead of everyone on the pitch, Gundogan was moving like prime Xavi with his ball manipulation today. Was untouchable in possession, and did his absolute best to find creative solutions through the tight defence of Shakhtar.
First start in a very long time for Raphinha, and he did not do anything to cement his place. Was infuriating on the ball, failing to beat his marker, attempting fruitless backheels, and misplacing crosses.
Robert Lewandowski: 3
Unlike the Sociedad game, Lewandowski received slightly better service today, but did not make anything out of it. Failed to have a single shot on target, and single-handedly slowed down multiple Barcelona attacks with tardy decision-making.
Ferran Torres: 6
Torres was the best of the starting forwards today, but by no means put in a decent performance himself. Failed to hit the target with a few attempts, and barely took on his man at any point.
Lamine Yamal: 6
Did much better than Raphinha on the right-wing, going past the opposition and creating a few chances. Had too little time to make a substantial impact, though.
Joao Felix: 5
Had arguably the best chance of the game, but failed to connect with it well enough. Flopped around here and there, and did not add anything more than what Ferran was offering already.
Added much-needed pace to the game, and broke lines well enough. However, he could not find the answers Barcelona were looking for, either.
Alejandro Balde: 7
Was brought on to add offensive depth, but ended up doing the lion’s share of defensive work for the team in the second half as he intercepted Shakhtar’s attacks multiple times.