Second half goals from Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele fired Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona continued on their winning ways in the new season, as they registered a comeback 2-1 victory over Real Socieadad at the Anoeta this weekend.
The Catalans were dealt an early blow as defender Aritz Elustondo fired La Real ahead just twelve minutes into the game, smashing the ball in off the post. The home team continued to pose a threat to Ernesto Valverde’s men and could have scored more if not for some important stops by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Just a little after the hour mark, Barca managed to strike back through Luis Suarez, who bundled home from close range after Sociedad failed to deal with a free-kick. And minutes later, the champions were in the lead as Ousmane Dembele volleyed home capitalizing on another mistake from the home team, to complete the turnaround.
Real Sociedad threatened to equalize late on, but Barcelona held on to seal three points and maintain their 100 percent record for the new season. Here’s how the Blaugrana stars fared on the day;
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8/10
The German international had little chance of stopping Elustondo’s strike in the first period, but went on to play a crucial role thereafter, to keep Barcelona in the game. Made solid stops to deny Juanmi and Theo Hernandez with the scoreline still at 1-0.
Nelson Semedo: 4/10
The Portuguese was handed a rare start at right-back but looked short of confidence and sharpness. Was weak in his challenge leading to Sociedad’s goal and did not offer a great deal going forward either. Unsurprisingly, was the first man to be taken off, with Valverde introducing Coutinho at half-time.
Gerard Pique: 5.5/10
The experienced centre-half failed to keep an eye on Elustondo in the lead-up to the home team’s goal. Headed wide from close range in the first period, but did play a part leading up to Suarez’s goal. Not his usual solid self though, as Juanmi seemed to cause him a lot of trouble.
Samuel Umtiti: 6.5/10
The Frenchman was kept on his toes all game by Sociedad’s quick counterattacks, but coped decently with most of their moves. Offered a physical presence in both penalty boxes and got the assist for Suarez’s equalizer that sparked the turnaround. Distribution crisp as usual.
Jordi Alba: 5/10
A fairly quiet start to the game for the Spanish full-back as he couldn’t get forward as usual in the first period. That changed after the break, but left his flank unprotected on many occasions which the home side tried to exploit but failed to completely capitalize on.
Ivan Rakitic: 5/10
The Croatian superstar struggled to exert his influence on the proceedings without Sergio Busquets alongside him. Played a few nice passes here and there, but didn’t offer the drive from the middle of the park. Improved after Busquets came on in the second period.
Sergi Roberto: 5/10
Given a starting berth in the three-man midfield, the Barcelona academy graduate failed to impose himself on the game. Moved to right-back after half-time once Coutinho came on and fared better in that position. Despite his insistence of wanting to play in the middle of the park, the Catalans seem better off with him at right-back.
Rafinha Alcantara: 4/10
Making his first league appearance of the 2018-19 season, the Brazilian midfielder failed to make any sort of impact. Lacked adventure on ball and looked to play it safe most of the time. Subbed off ten minutes into the second period as Barcelona looked to mount a comeback. A wasted opportunity.
Lionel Messi: 5/10
A surprisingly dull outing for the little magician. Dropped too deep in the first period in search of ball which reduced his impact in the final third of the field. A couple of decent efforts at goal late on apart, Messi did little to change the course of the game.
Luis Suarez: 6/10
Not at his best for large parts of the game, but never stopped battling. Frustrated after relentlessly appealing for a non-existent handball, as confirmed by VAR. Found himself at the right place at the right time to score the equalizer and bring Barcelona back into the game.
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
The Frenchman endured an under-par first period, as he conceded possession on a number of occasions and lacked the cutting edge. Turned it around after the break though and carried a lot of threat in the final third, before eventually scoring the winning goal and proving to be the difference maker once again.
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
Replaced Semedo at half-time and his presence in the middle changed things immediately for Barcelona. Offered a lot of guile and creativity going forward and forced Geronimo Rulli into a save. Should be starting every game when fit and available without a doubt.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Came on for Rafinha in the 56th minute and the difference he made after coming on was evident. Calmed down things in the middle, made his team more secure and added more control and direction to their forward play.
Arturo Vidal: N/A
Thrown in for Dembele in the 77th minute as Barcelona looked to shore things up and protect their lead.