Barcelona kicked off their Champions League campaign in stunning fashion, as they cruised to a 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Barcelona dominated the proceedings pretty much from the get-go, hogging the ball for the most part. But, PSV took the game to their hosts whenever the opportunity presented itself, with Steven Bergwijn conjuring up the most meaningful chance in the early exchanges.
The Blaugrana though, grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck at the half hour mark, as Lionel Messi scored a sublime free-kick after Ousmane Dembele was fouled just outside the PSV box by Nick Viergever. The second half continued in the same fashion, with Barcelona struggling to find the back of the net, and the visitors grabbing the odd half chance.
But, the game was put beyond the reach of Mark van Bommel & co. when Dembele scored a stunning solo goal from outside the box in the 75th minute. Two minutes later, Messi doubled his tally as Ivan Rakitic picked out the Barcelona captain to score a close range goal.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 18, 2018
The game was then rounded off in the 88th minute, with Messi completing his hat-trick with a fine finish but not before Samuel Umtiti was sent off for a second bookable offence. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men following a comfortable win in their Champions League opener.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
A quieter outing than the one this past weekend, ter Stegen just had regulation saves to make, with PSV not really managing to threaten all that much. But, the German was always alert to the dangers that the visitors presented while almost always finding his man while distributing the ball.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
Steve Bergwijn constantly kept Roberto on his toes, but the Spanish international arguably won the personal battle between the two. Did not contribute much going forward, although that was largely down to the threat that Bergwijn posed on the night.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
The best of the lot in the backline, Pique produced his best performance of the season so far, negating the threat of Luuk De Jong completely. Made a fantastic block to deny Hirving Lozano in what was a solid outing for the veteran Barcelona defender.
Samuel Umtiti: 3/10
An evening to forget for the Frenchman, who looked out of sorts for the most part. To make matters worse, Umtiti was dismissed for two fouls that could have been easily avoided. Set to miss the game against Tottenham now.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Much improved at the back even though Lozano had his number on more than one occasion. Read the game well at times, none more so when he ran his socks off to kill of a PSV counter-attack. Was in his elements in the final third, but the end product was lacking a few times.
Ivan Rakitic: 6/10
Rakitic hasn’t hit the ground running in the early stages of the season, and Tuesday’s performance was in a similar mould. While the Croat worked hard on and off the ball, his passing was not up to scratch. But, Rakitic did make an impact in the match, playing a part in one of Lionel Messi’s goals.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
A typical Sergio Busquets performance. The Spanish international absorbed the little pressure that PSV created while setting the tempo of the game with aplomb. The most crucial cog in Barcelona’s first-team setup.
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
A bright spark in the early exchanges, Coutinho was brimming with creativity that saw him slice open the stubborn PSV defence a number of times. Came close to grabbing a goal for himself as well, but was thwarted by Jeroen Zoet. A fine Champions League debut in Barcelona colours, nevertheless.
Lionel Messi: 10/10
What can one say about Messi that hasn’t been said already? The Barcelona captain was in his elements after a slow start to the game. The Argentine magician bypassed the twin block to send Luis Suarez clean through on goal before the Uruguayan missed.
But, that was only the start as Messi scored the first Champions League goal of the season with a sumptuous curling effort that left Zoet high and dry. However, Messi wasn’t done yet, as he scored two more goals, both in the second half, to score his first hat-trick of the season, and lay down the marker for what’s to come.
Messi now has as many Champions League goals as PSV Eindhoven in their entire history. A staggering stat to say the least.
Luis Suarez: 7/10
His Champions League duck may not have been broken, but Suarez was still one of the better performers for Barcelona on the night. The Uruguayan striker played a fantastic support act to the star of the night, Messi, linking up well with the Barcelona captain. Suarez even came close to scoring an outrageous goal, when he struck the woodwork with an audacious chip.
Ousmane Dembele: 8/10
3 – Ousmane Dembélé is the first La Liga player to score in three different competitions this season (Supercopa, La Liga and Champions League). Stellar. pic.twitter.com/h5GBXSncmJ
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 18, 2018
Consistency has been the name of the game for Dembele in the initial stages of the season. And while he was a little wasteful early on, it was his run that helped win the free-kick which was converted by Messi. The Frenchman then grabbed a goal for himself, which started from a brilliant turn that took two players out of the play before he unleashed a long-range curler.
Clement Lenglet: N/A
On for the final ten minutes or so, this is not the way Lenglet would have envisioned making his Champions League debut for Barcelona. Solid for whatever little time he was on the pitch, and is now set to make his full debut against Tottenham.
Came off the bench late on, and did not have time to make an impact.
Arturo Vidal: N/A
On for Rakitic for the last few minutes, Vidal will be aching to make his full debut soon.