Barcelona cruised to an easy 2-0 victory over Sporting Lisbon at Camp Nou, with the goals coming from Paco Alcacer and Sporting’s Jeremy Mathieu.
The Blaugrana fielded a largely second string side, resting a number of key players, despite having a number of injuries in the squad. They dominated the game, having 66% of the possession and taking 14 shots, out of which only four were on target.
Despite all their efforts, Sporting CP could only muster five attempts at Jasper Cillessen’s goal, out of which only three were on target. They never looked like they would get the better of their hosts and eventually succumbed to a 2-0 loss, with former Barcelona man Jeremy Mathieu directing a cross into the net in stoppage time.
Jasper Cillessen: 6
The Dutchman made three saves during the match, the most notable of which was one from Bas Dost from only a few yards away. The Dutchman needed to stay alert, given that Barcelona retained a tremendous amount of possession for long periods of time.
Nelson Semedo: 7
Semedo wasn’t tested that much on the right flank, but he didn’t really take the opportunity to venture forward to try and cause even more chaos. To make things worse, he picked up a booking.
Gerard Pique: 6
Pique had a relatively quiet first half, and later did well to keep Bas Dost at bay. He did whatever little was asked of him, and with his side taking complete control of possession, his workload reduced considerably.
Thomas Vermaelen: 7
The former Arsenal defender had an easy game on the night. He was good in the air and distributed the ball smartly as well. Vermaelen cut a calm and composed figure at the heart of defence alongside Pique.
Lucas Digne: 7
Faultless on the night, the Frenchman had a fine outing on the left side of defence. Digne was rarely caught out of position and had a comfortable evening. He was good in the air as well, but could have done better going forward.
Denis Suarez: 8
Set up both goals with some fine crosses, first through a corner and the second an inch perfect pass meant for Alcacer which forced Jeremy Mathieu to fly into a tackle and direct it into his own net. He distributed the ball well and was a constant threat. A fine performance from the youngster.
Ivan Rakitic: 8
The Croatian international put in an extremely industrious shift. He ran the show from midfield, constantly circulating the ball around for his teammates and keeping possession. He recovered possession for his side well, and also made a number of key interceptions and tackles.
Andre Gomes: 7
The Portuguese international started his first game since returning from injury and had a decent outing. He distributed the ball well, kept possession and created a fair few chances for his teammates too. Gomes also contributed defensively, making a number of key tackles. A good game for the former Valencia man.
Aleix Vidal: 6
Vidal started once in again in a more advanced right wing position. It wasn’t a revelation of a performance, but quite decent nonetheless as he looked to get involved as much as possible in the proceedings.
Perhaps Valverde is grooming the Spaniard to eventually become an outright winger, so that he may take the opportunity to rest some of his attacking players, given that Ousmane Dembele, Rafinha and Arda Turan are all sidelined.
Luis Suarez: 6
Suarez started off well, but faded off in the second half. He tried and tried and even got into some good goalscoring positions. His very presence still draws defenders and ruins formations, despite his poor form. But, he could do nothing to get or provide a goal. Yet another frustrating night for the former Liverpool man.
Paco Alcacer: 8
Scored his fifth of the season with a superb header, with the ball almost behind him. Mathieu’s own goal came due to his attempts to track the run of Alcacer, so he sort of played a part in the second goal as well.
A fine performance from the Spaniard, who worked tirelessly and kept harassing the Sporting defence. Took some time to settle into the game in the first half, but was ultimately rewarded for his persistence. Luis Suarez must surely be getting worried now.
Lionel Messi: 6
Came on in the 61st minute for Aleix Vidal shortly after his side took the lead, likely to put Sporting on the backfoot and to try and curb any fightback they might’ve considered. His very presence did just that, with Messi getting a few shots at goal, while spending most of the night keeping Sporting’s defenders busy.