A second-half strike from Ousmane Dembele was the difference as Barcelona registered their second league win of the season, beating Real Valladolid 1-0.
Reigning champions Barcelona went to the top of the La Liga table, after they defeated newly promoted outfit Real Valladolid 1-0 away at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Saturday.
On what was a horrendous playing surface that was relaid four days prior to the game, the Catalans struggled to break down their opponents with very few clear cut chances coming in the first period. However, they stepped it up after the break and Dembele broke the deadlock in the 57th minute, firing in a powerful strike.
There was late drama in the game as the home team seemed to have stolen a point through Keko’s diving header in the 92nd minute. But the goal was chalked off for offside by the referee, after consultation with the VAR, handing the Blaugrana all three points.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 25, 2018
Here’s how Ernesto Valverde’s men fared on the night against the Pucela.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
The German international was called into action on a number of times and he was up to the task every time, although most of the stops he had to make were pretty straightforward. An early save to deny former Manchester City forward Enes Unal was a standout moment from the Barcelona No.1.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
Moved back to the right-back slot after having started the last game in the centre of the park, the Barcelona academy graduate had a fairly quiet outing at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla. Assured at the back, while not offering a great deal going forward. But, Roberto did grab the assist for Dembele’s goal with a lovely cushioned header.
Gerard Pique: 5/10
Made a few important interventions to cut out threats, but struggled to cope with the conditions and resorted to hitting long balls out from the back. Booked for a block on Oscar Plano on the hour mark and a slip-up late on almost allowed the home side to get back on level terms. Not the most convincing of the performances from the seasoned campaigner.
Samuel Umtiti: 6/10
The French international fared better than his defensive partner on the night. Umtiti looked far more comfortable playing out from the back than Pique and dealt with the crosses and long balls that Valladolid kept hitting in his direction with relative ease.
Jordi Alba: 6.5/10
The Spaniard was his usual self on the left side of the back four, getting forward with pace and intent while defending with purpose. Had a few nice moments linking up with Philippe Coutinho and Dembele on the left channel. Produced a great clearing header at the far post to deny the home team an equalizer.
Ivan Rakitic: 6/10
The Croatian international was given the nod in the middle of the park despite there being uncertainties surrounding his future at the club. And while it was not his most assertive performance, Rakitic did enough to keep Barcelona on the front foot for most of the game. Passed well, kept things ticking. Almost scored with an overhit pass from over 40 yards out.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5/10
Like Rakitic, Busquets too did not exert his usual influence on the proceedings, but ensured that his side had their noses out front on the night. His distribution was crisp and precise on a surface where everyone else seemed to be struggling to get their passing right. Made an important block late on when the home team threatened to draw level.
Philippe Coutinho: 6.5/10
Handed a start after an impactful performance from the bench last weekend, the Brazilian playmaker had a mixed outing at the Jose Zorrilla. There were a number of bright moments, including an outside-of-the-boot pass to set Luis Suarez up and a shot that was tipped wide by Jordi Masip.
But there were also moments that lacked quality, while he had difficulties to get used to the condition of the pitch which resulted in a number of mishit passes. Faded a little in the second period and was taken off late on.
Lionel Messi: 6/10
A surprisingly subdued display from the little magician after a masterful display last weekend, but not for lack of efforts. Tried to create chances for teammates in the final third, but wasn’t helped by the poor pitch conditions. Gave the ball away on numerous occasions. There were still a few highlights, with a stunning pass to Dembele oozing class and quality, but Messi was far from his best.
Luis Suarez: 5/10
The Uruguayan’s struggles in the new campaign continued on Saturday as he once again failed to impose himself on the proceedings. Suarez looked off pace and lacked sharpness, failed to make most of the chances that came his way and saw a goal ruled out for offside by VAR. Had a hand in the goal, but needs to get firing soon.
Ousmane Dembele: 8/10
Having fired Barcelona to the Super Cup triumph earlier this month, the Frenchman once again proved to be their match-winner in a difficult game on Saturday, with a powerful finish in the second-half. Was the Catalans’ biggest threat in the attacking third, with his pace and trickery posing all sorts of problems for the Valladolid defence.
End product still needs a bit of polishing, but nevertheless it was another strong performance filled with intent and aggression from the World Cup winner.
Arturo Vidal: N/A
Came on for Dembele with less than fifteen minutes left to be played. Not enough time to make an impact on the proceedings.
Replaced Coutinho in the 84th minute. Had a great chance to make it 2-0, but fired his shot straight at the Valladolid goalkeeper.
Munir El Haddadi: N/A
Came on to replace Suarez in the stoppage time.