Barcelona continued their perfect start to the season as they thrashed La Liga newcomers SD Huesca 8-2 at Camp Nou on Sunday.
The hosts were the overwhelming favourites to cruise to a straightforward win, but the first half was anything but. In fact, it was the visitors who went on to take a shock lead through Cucho, whose shot was deflected into the net. Barcelona though, hit back strongly with three goals before Huesca pulled one back minutes before half-time through Alex Gallar.
The Huesca juggernaut finally halted in the second half, as Barcelona dominated the final 45 minutes to trounce the La Liga newcomers. The Blaugrana party began just three minutes in as Ousmane Dembele continued his strong start to the season, before Ivan Rakitic added another in no time by drilling the ball in from an acute angle.
Lionel Messi scored his second of the night a couple of minutes post the hour mark, and then teed up Jordi Alba for his side’s seventh goal. The win was finally rounded off in injury time when Luis Suarez converted from the spot after he had been fouled inside the Huesca box.
👟 FULL TIME: Barça win 8-2 against Huesca. Two for Messi, two for Suárez, one for Alba, Dembélé and Rakitic and an own goal from Pulido. Cucho Hernández and Gallar for the visitors.
🔵🔴 #BarçaHuesca pic.twitter.com/VF2z0OqEUl
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 2, 2018
The 8-2 hammering meant Barcelona leapfrogged bitter rivals Real Madrid to the top of the table, with the two clubs level on points after the first three matchdays. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men following a largely convincing performance.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
Conceded two goals that he could have done very little about, and were largely down to defensive errors than those made by him. Otherwise, it was a largely quiet outing for the Barcelona number one, although he did show good presence of mind to send Philippe Coutinho on his way before the Brazilian set Messi up for his second.
Sergi Roberto: 7/10
Roberto was arguably the best defender on display, from either side, on Sunday, with the rest of the Barcelona defenders faltering at different stages. The Spaniard was also his usual self going forward as he linked up well with Messi and rightly kept it simple around the Huesca box.
Gerard Pique: 5.5/10
An underwhelming performance from the veteran defender, who was at fault for both the goals that Huesca scored. Off the pace when Cucho evaded his marker and scored before he was also caught ball watching for Gallar’s goal. On the opposite end though, Pique posed a huge threat and was confident on the ball, as always.
Samuel Umtiti: 5/10
Like his partner at the heart of the Barcelona defence, Umtiti flattered to deceive as well. Caught off guard for the first goal before being beaten by Moi Gomez for Huesca’s second. Still might be a little rusty, but the international break could do him good in that aspect. Clement Lenglet though, might be fancying his chances of replacing Umtiti.
Jordi Alba: 8/10
A typical Jordi Alba performance, with the Spaniard a near-unstoppable force in the final third, while being suspect at the back. Indeed, Alba was partly at fault for the two goals that Barcelona conceded as well. But, in the final third, few matched his output.
Alba first forced an own goal from Jorge Pulido before he set Luis Suarez up with the simplest of chances following a trademark darting run. He capped off a solid outing with a goal of his own, with Lionel Messi setting him up beautifully. A statement performance after being dropping from the Spain squad by Luis Enrique.
Ivan Rakitic: 8/10
A refreshingly uncharacteristic performance by Rakitic, who took up more advanced positions as Barca starting controlling the proceedings. But, that didn’t mean that the Croat wasn’t available to help out whenever Huesca prodded forward in central areas. A strong outing was rewarded with a goal early on in the second half, with Rakitic drilling the ball into the bottom left corner.
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
Huesca looked to negate his influence by trying to mark him out of the game. But, it takes more than just one marker to shut off Busquets, who used his intelligence to advance forward and peg the visitors back further. When Barcelona finally took charge of the match, the midfielder assumed his usual positions before being given an early rest.
Philippe Coutinho: 9/10
Coutinho's stats against Huesca:
88% pass accuracy
3 key passes
2 big chances created
100% long balls completed
5 dribbles completed
8 duels won
1 foul won
Phenomenal performance by the Brazilian maestro. pic.twitter.com/x2x3roxlKE
— Stats (@centrestats) September 2, 2018
A performance that oozed class, despite the fact that Coutinho couldn’t manage to net a goal himself. The Brazilian pulled the strings in the middle of the park, linking up beautifully with Messi, Alba and Suarez by using his free role to good effect.
Did finally manage to contribute to a goal when he set Messi up with a perfectly timed and beautifully weighted through ball. Coutinho has managed to look every bit worth the staggering sum that was paid to sign him earlier this year.
Lionel Messi: 10/10
Barcelona’s talisman was back to his very best after a quiet outing against Real Valladolid last week. There was absolutely nothing to fault from a display that humbled Huesca. Perhaps he could have squared the ball when he hit the crossbar with a powerful shot, but that is just clutching at straws.
As far as his tangible contributions are concerned, his first goal was made to look ordinary despite it being hard to pull off, as Messi pulled away from Luisinho before scoring past Axel Werner. The finish for the second goal was splendid as well, and he also had a couple of classy assists to show for his efforts – he now has an astonishing 150 assists in La Liga.
Lionel Messi in LaLiga after the first three games of 2018/19:
• Most shots (16)
• Most chances created (15)
• Most take-ons completed (12)
• Most through balls completed (8)
• =Most goals (4)
• =Most assists (2)
The master forward. 🙇 pic.twitter.com/Oa7iihMYph
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 2, 2018
Also made many-a Barcelona fans admire him even more when he snubbed the chance to complete his hat-trick by letting Luis Suarez take the penalty towards the end of the match. Leading by example.
Luis Suarez: 9/10
After two underwhelming performances to kick off the season, Suarez seems to be slowly getting back to his best. The Uruguayan did get a simple chance for his first goal, but it still needed a strong finish. The second was a calmly slotted penalty.
His best moment though, was when he set Ousmane Dembele up with a brilliant through ball. Valverde will hope this outing proves to be an antidote for the season ahead for Suarez.
Ousmane Dembele: 8/10
Speaking of Dembele, the Frenchman continued his strong start to the season by producing another solid performance on Sunday. While he was slightly slow off the blocks, he soon found his feet, using his pace to good effect. The finish for his goal was beautiful as well, as Dembele drilled the ball past Werner. Just the perfect response to Malcom’s signing.
Clement Lenglet: 6/10
Lenglet made his Barcelona debut for Barcelona as he replaced Umtiti for the final half-hour. And, the summer signing provided a good account of himself by executing the small things that he could well, considering how dominant Barcelona were. Inching closer towards making his full debut in La Liga.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
Another game when Vidal started on the bench. But, this was another solid cameo by the Chilean, who is also getting closer towards his full debut. Displayed some neat touches on the ball and nearly got an assist with a spectacular overhead effort when Suarez headed just wide.
On for the final 15 minutes of the game, Arthur continued from where Busquets left off, and had very little to do on the ball.