Barça 2-1 Valencia: Player Ratings

The ratings from Saturday’s win

Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Valencia were not without their attacks and the Barça keeper was regularly called into action. Producing a smart save within four minutes, he kept the visitors at bay. He also made up for his own mistake in spectualcuar fashion with an instinctive push over the bar from close range. Should have done better with the penalty.

You say: 9

Sergi Roberto

Never got close enough to the attackers he was supposed to mark and a lot of the Valencia attempts came from his side.

You say: 6

Gerard Pique

Looked sluggish at times both physically and mentally and could do with a break. While he made tackles and interceptions, he also gave the ball away in dangerous areas. However he was the hero as he cleared a goal bound shot off the line.

You say: 7

Samuel Umtiti

Matched a good defensive performance with an excellent header. Showing strength to hold off the defender he rose to head near post and give Barça a comfortable two goal cushion.

You say: 7

Jordi Alba

Frequently involved in attacks and also kept Valencia’s right wing at bay.

You say: 7

Sergio Busquets

Returned to the side and provided a much needed balance and cool head after the Roma performance. Busquets did not stop every Valencia counterattack but he certainly kept them to a minimum.

You say: 7

Andrés Iniesta

A very attacking game from Iniesta as he regularly made his way into the box. The highlight of this was receiving a lobbed pass from Messi and while Iniesta did make contact with the acrobatic effort, the shot power was minimal and it was easily saved. Post-macth, he gave a cryptic message about his future.

You say: 8

Paulinho

Very quiet in the midfield as he focused on defending rather than attacking. This allowed more attacking freedom for Iniesta and Coutinho.

You say: 6

Philippe Coutinho

Showed great linkup play with Luis Suárez in particular for the first goal. His movement inside coupled with a great slide ball through to the Uruguayn was near impossible to defend and opened the account for Barça. One of Coutinho’s best performances in a Barça shirt so far.

You say: 9

Lionel Messi

His shooting was a little wayward having registered six shots but only two on target. Indeed, it wasn’t quite happening for Messi in this game and towards the end he seemed to rush some chances in the hope of a goal.

You say: 7

Luis Suárez

Took his goal very well by finding the bottom corner with his first touch. Has built up a nice understanding with Coutinho.

You say: 7

Ousmane Dembele

Worryingly left out of the starting line up, Demeble was brought on late and only touched the ball nine times during that period. Also managed to pick up a card for a stupid challenge in his own box.

You say: 6

Denis Suarez

Only played ten minutes

You say: 6

Nelson Semedo

Came on in injury time.

You say: 6

Ernesto Valverde

Needed a win after an embarrassment midweek and he got one. Managed the team well.

You say: 7

The Team

Bounced back from the Roma defeat with a professional performance.

You say: 7

MOTM?

You say: ter Stegen

Barça 3-0 Chelsea: Player Ratings

Yours and Sam’s scores for a big European night

Marc-André ter Stegen

Chelsea’s wayward attempts and a strong Barça backline meant ter Stegen was rarely tested. He only made three saves in the game but looked more than capable when called upon. The only slight doubt was how close he was to Alonso’s free kick but luckily for the German the set piece could only find the outside of the post.

Sam’s Rating: 8

Your Rating: 8


Jordi Alba

Surprisingly considering they played with wing backs, Chelsea’s play was very central and that meant Alba did not have much to do down the wings. However, he was up against Chelsea’s most in-form player in Willian and marshalled him well.

Sam’s Rating: 8

Your Rating: 8


Gerard Piqué

Enjoyed the aerial battle against Giroud even if it meant a few elbows. He largely won all his duels which forced Giroud further downfield in the hopes of seeing the ball.

Sam’s Rating: 7

Your Rating: 8


Samuel Umtiti

Superb in the middle of defence. Block after block after block, there was an almost exasperated look on Giroud’s face when his French compatriot denied Chelsea yet again. The little magician up front would take the headlines but it would have been a much more difficult night for Barça if it wasn’t for Umtiti.

Sam’s Rating: 10

Your Rating: 9


Sergi Roberto

With Hazard favouring a central position, Roberto’s defensive zone was often left blank. Regardless he maintained status quo on the right flank.

Sam’s Rating: 7

Your Rating: 7


Sergio Busquets

Frequently won the ball back in the middle of the park whilst adding the passing game. With another excellent defensive midfielder on the pitch in Kante, Busquets won this mini-battle. Had to be substituted in the second half due to injury.

Sam’s Rating: 8

Your Rating: 8


Ivan Rakitić

Added a directness to Barça’s play that was lacking at times. During the phases when Chelsea were on top he dropped deep to cover alongside Busquets and made four tackles in the process.

Sam’s Rating: 8

Your Rating: 8


Andrés Iniesta

Made a few probing runs into the box and also looked to test Courtois from range at points. Wasn’t at his best but this is to be expected coming back from injury and Barça’s ball retention noticeably dropped when he left the field.

Sam’s Rating: 7

Your Rating: 7


Ousmane Dembélé

One of his best Barça performances to date. He was lively, involved in the player but did look a little raw on occasions. His passes found their targets but occasionally they were a yard behind where they need to be and that slowed Barça’s attacks. Produced an excellent finish to score his first goal for the club.

Sam’s Rating: 9

Your Rating: 8


Luis Suárez

A day after the game, a stat appeared that Suárez has not scored a Champions League goal in a year but what would be a discredit to the service he provides to the team. His movement shifts the defence and allows the likes of Messi and Dembélé more freedom. He may not have got a goal but he was crucial to Barça’s success.

Sam’s Rating: 9

Your Rating: 8


Lionel Messi

At his clinical best in this game. If Chelsea lost the ball in a dangerous area, Messi was there to punish them. A mixture of smart finishing and bad goalkeeping allowed Messi to fire two shots through Courtois’ legs and the Argentine decided this game. Also noteworthy was his ability to drop deep and slow the tempo at a time when Chelsea were probing.

Sam’s Rating: 10

Your Rating: 10


Paulinho

Swapped in for Iniesta, Paulinho did not do a lot but did provide fresh legs that where needed.

Sam’s Rating: 6

Your Rating: 7


Andre Gomes

Greeted to a massive ovation as he entered the field, the mental burden seemed to be eased a little and he did show glimmers of what he can do.

Sam’s Rating: 7

Your Rating: 7


Aleix Vidal

Played a significant portion but did not get massively involved.

Sam’s Rating: 6

Your Rating: 7


The Team

A performance when they punished Chelsea during their dominant phases and defended well when Chelsea had theirs. The game was not a dominating Barça performance but perhaps more symbolic of the pragmatic Valverde approach. Hit hard when you’re on top and defend well when you’re not.

Sam’s Rating: 8

Your Rating: 9


Ernesto Valverde

Set the team up to soak pressure and hurt Chelsea. Right team selection and Dembélé thanked his manger for the start with a fine performance.

Sam’s Rating: 8

Your Rating: 9


MOTM?

Sam says: Messi

You say: Messi


MOTMOTM?

Sam says: Umtiti

You say: Umtiti

Barcelona 6-1 Girona: Player Ratings

A big win and the scores are in.

Marc-André ter Stegen

Was caught out for Girona’s goal when he burst off his line but did not make a good challenge and subsequently left an empty net. Other than that, he was very good.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


Nelson Semedo

Did not offer a lot in terms of attacking and seemed hesitant to get forward at times but was good defensively. Has reportedly picked up an injury that will keep him out for five weeks.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


Samuel Umtiti

Was at fault for the Girona goals he wasn’t quick enough to react. Did not really have a lot to deal with after that.

You say: 7

Sam says: 6


Gerard Piqué

Not much he could have done for Girona’s goal and after that the away side offered very little in terms of attack making it a relatively straightforward game for Piqué.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Jordi Alba

With the width provided by Dembélé and Coutinho, Alba did not need to get forward as much as possible and so was not involved a lot in the attacking department. Defensively, he made one tackle, one interception and four clearances.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Sergio Busquets

Was constantly an outlet for the defence and helped get the ball forward as much as possible, a typically Busquets performance. Substituted in the 68th minute.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Phillipe Coutinho

Coutinho’s best pefroamnce in a Barça shirt to date. He was creative, dangerous and improitnalty on the same wavelength as Messi and Suárez.

You say: 9

Sam says: 9


Ivan Rakitić

Rakitić’s main job was to just get the ball to the front three as much as possible and he did this week.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


Ousmane Dembélé

Looked very dangersous and wasted afraid to shoot. However this did on occasion come to him not choosing the correct option and wasting some chances.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Luis Suárez

Ruthlessly efficient from Suárez. Scoring a from four shots on target is an impressive conversion rate and he also managed to assist one as well.

You say: 10

Sam says: 10


Lionel Messi

Not much more you can say than he was outstanding, paricualry in the first half. He created chance after chance and seemingly every touch he had hurt Girona.

You say: 10

Sam says: 10


Thomas Vermaelen

Played around a half hour but did not have to break much of a sweat.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Paulinho

Played 22 minutes but struggled to get involved.

You say: 6

Sam says: 6


Sergi Roberto

Only played fifteen minutes but looked good.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Ernesto Valverde

Won the game early and made subs to rest some legs.

You say: 9

Sam says: 9


The Team

Dominated Girona from the first minute and bounced back well to recover from a goal down. Very good in an attacking sense.

You say: 10

Sam says: 9


MOTM?

You say: Messi

Sam says: Messi


MOTMOTM?

You say: Suárez

Sam says: Suárez

Eibar 0-2 Barça: Player Ratings

The scores from Saturday’s win.

Marc-André ter Stegen

Made some good saves in the opening stages when Eibar was troubling. In the second half, he had less of an impact but responded when called upon.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Sergi Roberto

With Alba so high up the pitch, it was important Roberto stayed back and he did this job well.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Samuel Umtiti

Kept the Eibar attackers away from the goal for the majority of the game. Made the second and the most tackles and the most interceptions of any Barça player.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Gerard Piqué

Did on occasion struggle with the pace of Eibar but his positional awareness prevented any real chances for the hosts who were mostly restricted to long shots.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


Jordi Alba

A lot of Eibar’s early chances were coming down Alba’s left side and this was due to the full back pushing up very high. In an attacking sense, he was very good. Only Messi registered more shots than him and he secured the win late on.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Sergio Busquets

Enjoyed a good midfield battle with Pape Diop and produced an incredible seven tackles in the game.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Andrés Iniesta

Often had to drop in to fill for the absence created by Alba. Was more withdrawn in this game and therefore couldn’t have a big as influence as we are used to seeing.

You say: 7

Sam says: 6


Ivan Rakitić

Struggled to get going in an attacking sense but regularly dropped deep to defend when needed.

You say: 7

Sam says: 6


Paulinho

Pretty anonymous throughout the game aside from a tame header. His form is declining rapidly.

You say: 5

Sam says: 5


Luis Suárez

In a period where Eibar were looking to score, Luis Suárez got the goal that poured cold water on the home side. Producing a good run, he was picked out by Messi and then was calm enough to take it round the keeper and score. Horribly fluffed a chance in the early stages of the second period.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


Lionel Messi

Routinely found the likes of Suárez and Alba to create chances. Was on occasion guilty of giving the ball away too easily.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Philippe Coutinho

Had a positive influence when he came on and provided a bit of much needed creativity. The highlight being a lovely dinked pass into the path of Messi.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Nélson Semedo

Only played a few minutes.

You say: 6

Sam says: N/A


Aleix Vidal

Played 17 minutes but was only seriously involved in one play.

You say: 7

Sam says: 6


Ernesto Valverde

Valverde was smart with the introduction of Coutinho at the right time as it pushed Barça’s energy levels up.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


The Team

A fairly flat performance but it got the job done and now on to the next one.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


MOTM

You say: Messi

Sam says: Messi


MOTMOTM

You say: Suárez

Sam says: Alba

Does Coutinho provide the key to defeating Chelsea?

Despite being cup-tied in the Champions League, the Brazilian’s experience may be crucial.

In the last decade, Chelsea have become an increasing thorn in the side of Barcelona. You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time the Blaugrana triumphed over the London club and barring a late Andrés Iniesta goal, Chelsea would have knocked Barça out of the Champions League in their last three meetings.

Barcelona are strong favourites for the 2018 edition of this fixture but when the players take to the field next week, it may be the experience of one of those in the stands that provides the pathway to victory.

Of all the teams Philippe Coutinho has played in his career, he has faced Chelsea the most. Featuring against them in 12 matches, the Brazilian has scored two goals and provided an assist. Interestingly though, Coutinho has rarely been on the winning side. He has drawn six of those encounters, won two and lost the rest so while he does not have an outstanding record against them, he knows what it takes to win and how easy it can be to lose to Chelsea.

Due to his performances with Liverpool earlier this season, Coutinho himself is cup tied for this game but he has more experience of the London club then any other player in the Barcelona squad. It is also worth nothing that in his past six meetings with Chelsea, Coutinho has not been on the losing side.

The last time Coutinho visited Stamford Bridge, he scored one of the goals in Liverpool’s 2-1 win so clearly knows what tactics work well against Chelsea. Ernesto Valverde will no doubt have his own ideas and plans for next week’s tie but a few questions may be heading Coutinho’s way given he has first hand experience.

Valencia 0-2 Barcelona: Player Ratings

Jasper Cillessen

Made a simply stunning save with the score at 1-0. Gaya was no more than two yards out when he hit the ball towards goal but Cillessen’s lighting reactions helped him push it away. This save was as important as a goal because at 1-1, the momentum would have been with Valencia.

Sam says: 9

You say: 9


Sergi Roberto

Was neccessary in keeping a very fluid Valencia attack at bay. Didn’t really venture forward as much as usually but he completed his primary job of helping Barça to that clean sheet.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Samuel Umtiti

Another “you shall not pass” performance from Umtiti. Making two tackles, two interceptions and three clearances whilst blocking three shots ensured Valencia’s goal tally remained at 0.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Gerard Piqué

Rodrigo was causing Piqué plenty of problems throughout the match. It seemed as if the Valencia striker was targeting Piqué over Umtiti due to the former’s relative lack of pace and it was benefiting the striker. He did also at times look like he was suffering from that recent injury but he dealt with the majority of the questions asked of him.

Sam says: 7

You say: 8


Jordi Alba

Very involved with the play and made the fifth most touches of any Barça player. However, his passing did let him down on occasion as he dropped to an accuracy of 85.9%. Could have won his team a penalty when his shot hit the arms of Montoya but the referee said no.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Sergio Busquets

A very strong performance from Busquets in which he dominated the midfield. It was rare the Valencia players ever got in behind centrally and they were usually forced outside due to Busquets’ presence. Made four tackles, there interceptions and two clearances.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Ivan Rakitić

Made a bit of a mess with a relatively easy shot in the second half but made up for it with a good finish to seal the game for Barça. Became more involved in the game with the introduction of Coutinho which allowed him to play more centrally.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Andrés Iniesta

Kept the Barça game ticking over if not too adventurous in his attacking. Suprsingly recored the joint highest amount of tackles for a Barcelona player. Left the field in the 64th minute.

Sam says: 7

You say: 8


Andre Gomes

Did little during his time on the pitch and was hooked at half time.

Sam says: 4

You say: 5


Luis Suárez

A simply wonderful run and then pass to find Countiho for the first goal. You can see the confidence flowing through the Uruguayan thanks to his recent form and his work for the first goal was evidence of this. His perseverance then earned him another assist as he refused to go down from a bad Valencia challenge. He stayed on his feet, fed in Rakitić and the Croatian scored. Throughout the game, he was fantastic.

Sam says: 9

You say: 9


Lionel Messi

Was coming increasingly closer to scoring in the opening stages. First a free kick was punched clear then a long range effort did not quite curl enough but it was a sign of things to come. Managed six shots in the game and was unlucky not to find himself on the scoresheet.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Philippe Coutinho

Introduced at half time, one of Coutinho’s very first touches was a technically very difficult finish for Barça’s opener. Sliding to reach the ball, the Brazilian had to cushion it back across goal and into the far corner. A glorious goal to open your Barça account.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Paulinho

Played half an hour but did not contribute a massive amount.

Sam says: 6

You say: 7


Yerry Mina

Made his long awaited Barcelona debut.

Sam says: N/A

You say: 7


Ernesto Valverde

Another excellent example of game management from Valverde. His starting line-up was correct and he introduced substitutions at key times.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


The Team

Marshalled the Valencia attacks well while enjoying many of their own. Sometimes were guilty of not being clinical enough.

Sam says: 7

You say: 8


MOTM

Sam says: Luis Suárez

You say: Luis Suárez

Barcelona 1-0 Valencia: Player Ratings

A first leg win and the ratings are in.

Jasper Cillessen

Operated as the sweeper when needed which is a talent we don’t always see from Cillessen. Especially in the opening minutes, his intelligence to come out early stopped a dangerous Valencia attack.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Sergi Roberto

With Vidal staying wide, Roberto often came more narrow in order to help the attack but he rarely received the ball in these positions. In a defensive sense, he was sometimes caught too high up the field and required Umtiti or Piqué to bail him out.

Sam says: 6

You say: 7


Samuel Umtiti

A commanding performance from Umtiti which snuffed out any Valencia attacks before they could really develop into something dangerous.

Sam says: 9

You say: 9


Gerard Piqué

Produced a smart lunge to get the ball up and other the bar from a Valencia cross. Could have ended in curtains with the ball finding the net but an experienced player such as Piqué had not problem dealing with this as he did throughout the match.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Jordi Alba

Was a needed option as Barça looked to create overloads and drag the Valencia defenders out of position. His pull backs were good again but they didn’t quite come off with the same frequency that we are used to.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Sergio Busquets

Very rarely was he beaten in behind especially not centrally and if Valencia did manage in a counterattack, it came from down the wings. Quickly converted defence into attack which was needed against a well organised opponent like Valencia.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Andrés Iniesta

Operated well just behind the front three. The pushing forward of Iniesta did not allow Valencia much time to regain their defensive shape and the captain tested this defence with accurate passes or neat one-twos. Was substituted in the

Sam says: 8

You say: 7


Ivan Rakitić

The less effective of the two attacking midfielders, Rakitić did not really burst forward all too frequently in this game and his influence was a little muted. Left the field for Paulinho.

Sam says: 6

You say: 7


Aleix Vidal

Played very well as he continues to enjoy a period of fine form. Often cutting back, he was able to produce very, precise passes that opened up an organised Valencia defence.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Luis Suárez

Was making all the right runs as he looked to continue his incredible goalscoring form. In the first half, he was frequently an inch away from making connection with the ball but he made up for this in the second half with a header at the back post.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Lionel Messi

Was given no space by the Valencia defenders and when he did receive the ball it was sometimes rushed. This resulted in him finding the side netting or shooting wide or more than one occasion. Still looked Barça’s most creative player though.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


Philippe Coutinho

Entered the match just before the hour mark and had a couple of dangerous shots.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Paulinho

In a typically Paulinho fashion, he was brought on just after a goal had been scored. Marshalled the play if nothing spectacular.

Sam says: 6

You say: 6


Paco Alcácer

Looked lively in his 17 minute cameo.

Sam says: 7

You say: 7


Ernesto Valverde

Did not play a weakened team this time round and the team repaid him with a win. Made smart changes which has become a hallmark of Valverde’s Barça career.

Sam says: 7

You say: 8


The Team

Struggled to break down Valencia in the first half but they got their goal and more importantly they stopped Valencia from getting theirs. With no away goals to them name, Valencia will need to stop Barça scoring if they have any hope of reaching the final.

Sam says: 8

You say: 8


MOTM & MOTMOTM

Sam says:

You say: Samuel Umtiti

Limited Edition Barça Bobbleheads are Released

The National Bobblehead Hall or Fame and Museum have made limited edition Barça bobbleheads and sent one to Barça Blaugranes for us to have a look at.

Few players can ever claim to be good enough that they have a bobblehead designed on them but now four Barça players can. Forever Collectibles have produced four FC Barcelona licensed bobbleheads meaning these figures have a recognisable likeness to their real life counterparts.

The four players that have received the bobblehead treatment are Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Gerard Piqué. Each player is in a unique pose with Messi and Suárez’s statues recreating their goal celebrations.

These are not your average bobbleheads though. For starters, they are much bigger. Whereas your average bobblehead is about two inches tall these are roughly three times the size. The bobbleheads also come with a specially designed mount of the main stand of the Camp Nou and the bottom is labelled with the number your statue is.

It is clear a lot of hard work has gone into creating these and any über Barça fans can add bobbleheads to the growing list of Barça merchandise that they own.

See more at https://store.bobbleheadhall.com/products/fcbarcelona?variant=183215554567

Barça 2-1 Espanyol: Player Ratings

Progression to the semis and here’s how the players did.

Jasper Cillessen

Did not have a massive amount to deal with as Espanyol offered little going forward but he did everything that was asked of him.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Sergi Roberto

Not as impactful as he has been in the past but that is most likely due to Vidal’s pace on the wing. Defensively, he was good.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Samuel Umtiti

Undoubtedly his highlight was a glourois last man, back-heel interception. Solid as a rock throughout.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Gerard Piqué

Marshalled the ball well and looked to start attacks whenever possible.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


Jordi Alba

Not so much of there Messi-Alba connection this time but Alba was an option whenever called upon.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Sergio Busquets

Espanyol rarely looked like they were going to unleash a counterattack but if they did, Busquets was ready to stop them. His passing kept the team ticking along.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Andrés Iniesta

Kept the play moving quickly which was important given the first leg scoreline. Left the field for new boy Coutinho just after the hour mark.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Ivan Rakitić

Effective from the midfield as he helped to win the midfield battle while looking to find the front three as much as possible.

You say: 8

Sam says: 7


Aleix Vidal

A very good performance from Vidal especially as not long ago he was considered by some as surplus to requirements. His cross to Suárez was technically very difficult as he had to match pace with precision in order to find his teammate but he achieved it.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Luis Suárez

A master of contortion for the first goal as he arched his body to meet a cross that was moving quickly at him. Suárez overall game was also very good, putting to bed any doubts that his form had gone forever.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Lionel Messi

No surprise really as he was the most influential player again. One aspect of this game inparticular was his desire to win the ball back. For both the goals, possession was won back by Messi. Fitting that he scored the 4,000th goal at Camp Nou.

You say: 9

Sam says: 9


Philippe Coutinho

One of the most natural debuts you are likely to see. The Brazilian did not seem fazed by the potentially daunting ground ahead of him. Instead he did not try anything too fancy, kept it simple but added some Brazlian flair. A little glimpse of what is to come.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Paulinho

Played half an hour but was not overly impactful.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Andre Gomes

Only played few minutes.

You say: 6

Sam says: N/A


Ernesto Valverde

The rotated players performed very well and the tactic seemed to be, score as early as possible and settle the nerves. With the game won, Valverde was able to give a debut to Coutinho.

You say: 8

Sam says: 9


The Team

Two early goals relieved any pressure of a cup exit and from there it was just a case of game management.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


MOTM

You say: Messi

Sam says: Messi

MOTMOTM

You say: Suárez

Sam says: Suárez

Espnayol 1-0 Barça: Player Ratings

The scores from a disappointing defeat.

Jasper Cillessen

Made a good save from a swerving Espanyol free kick. Wasn’t a huge deal he could do for the goal but he can be criticised for being too far when the shot was taken. He was expecting a cutback which meant even a full stretch dive got him nowhere near the corner.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Sergi Roberto

Won the penalty for Barcelona after a clumsy challenge from the Espanyol defender. Speaking of clumissnes, a careless back pass from Roberto almost cost Barça a goal but Piqué was on hand to cover.

You say: 6

Sam says: 6


Thomas Vermaelen

Was unlucky not to open the scoring in the second half as a Messi cross was just headed away from him at the last moment.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Gerard Piqué

After Messi’s missed penalty, the team looked visibly shook and Piqué was desperately trying to regain the team’s focus. A cross that wasn’t defended by Digne has to be unorthodoxly cleared by Piqué and the Frenchman received a verbal barking.

You say: 7

Sam says: 7


Lucas Digne

Showed frequent lapses in concentration and the goal came from his side as he didn’t get close on enough to the attacker.

You say: 6

Sam says: 5


Sergio Busquets

Produced an unbelievable piece of skill to work his way past three defenders and followed it up with a rare shot towards the goal. The effort was one of Barça’s better ones in the first half.

You say: 8

Sam says: 8


Denis Suárez

Struggled again over on the left flank and in the final few minutes of the first half he missed a golden opportunity. He was well found by Aleñá but wrapped his foot too far round the ball and dragged it wide.

You say: 6

Sam says: 5


Paulinho

Baring one half attempt at goal, he was pretty anonymous throughout.

You say: 6

Sam says: 5


Aleix Vidal

Didn’t create a lot on the left flank.

You say: 6

Sam says: 5


Carlos Aleñá

Highlight of the youngsters’ game was a through ball pass to Denis Suárez but it ultimately came to nothing. Was substituted for Denis’ namesake Luis early in the second half.

You say: 6

Sam says: 6


Lionel Messi

Played well if not quite at his brilliant best. Everything he tried almost came off but it is these fine margins that can swing a game in your favour. His penalty was well hit but wasn’t far enough in the corner and was a good save from the keeper.

You say: 7

Sam says: 8


Ivan Rakitić

Only notable action was picking up a booking.

You say: 6

Sam says: 6


Luis Suárez

Pretty quiet in his second half appearance.

You say: 6

Sam says: 6


Rafinha

Made a welcome return from a long injury and did surprisingly well in the circumstances. However, couldn’t help Barça win the game.

You say: 6

Sam says: 7


Ernesto Valverde

Should have rotated in the second leg as the B-team struggled.

You say: 6

Sam says: 6


The Team

Good but nowhere near their best. Punished late on after the penalty miss looked to have unnerved them.

You say: 6

Sam says: 6


MOTM?

You say: Busquets

Sam says: Busquets