Leganes were victorious for the first time this season, as they stunned league leaders Barcelona to record a 2-1 win at the Butarque on Wednesday night.
It was a tale of two halves at Estadio Municipal de Butarque as Barcelona dominated much of the first 45 minutes. The reigning La Liga champions went on to grab a well deserved lead in the first quarter of an hour as Philippe Coutinho scored a sensational long-range volley to get up and running for the season.
But, Leganes weren’t afraid to take the game to Barcelona, especially in the second half. And, their persistence would pay off in a stunning two-minute spell that left the visitors shell shocked. Mauricio Pellegrino’s men first restored parity in the 52nd minute, when Nabil El Zhar headed in from close range.
But, in an opportunistic moment, the hosts went on to grab a lead as a disastrous error by Gerard Pique saw Real Madrid loanee Oscar Rodriguez duly oblige to hand his side the lead. Thereafter, Barcelona enjoyed the bulk of the possession but did not have the cutting edge to trouble Leganes much, apart from one moment wherein Ivan Cuellar was alert to make a superb double save.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 26, 2018
The match would thus, go on to end with a 2-1 scoreline as Leganes recorded their first victory of the season to climb out of the relegation zone. Barcelona, on the other hand, dropped points for the second successive game, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
Another frustrating night in goal for the Barcelona no. 1. Ter Stegen wasn’t at fault for either goal that his side conceded, with the goalkeeper having little chance, if at all, to save two efforts from point blank range. Apart from the two-minute period, the German had very little to do, and will feel let down by each of the defenders in front of him.
Sergi Roberto: 5/10
As always, Roberto showed plenty of heart and desire, especially when charging forward. But, there was very little end product to match the effort. At the back, the Barcelona academy graduate was solid for the most part, but played his role in the defeat as well, allowing Jonathan Silva the time and space to cross the ball for Leganes’ equaliser.
Gerard Pique: 3/10
The poor run continues for Pique, who has been one of the poorest players for Barcelona at the start of the season. While he was solid enough in the first half, the experienced defender was the biggest contributor to the defensive capitulation that led to the defeat.
He first failed to mark Nabil El Zhar for the equaliser before playing an inexplicable pass to a grateful Oscar Rodriguez, who had the simplest of jobs to tap in the winner. An abysmal night for Pique.
Samuel Umtiti: 5/10
Umtiti was, by far, the best defender on show for Barcelona on the night, but that is no big achievement. The Frenchman was nowhere to be seen in either goal that Leganes scored, and could have contributed to a third as well. So while he was better than the others in the back four, it was only marginally so.
Thomas Vermaelen: 5/10
A surprise selection in the left-back slot, even though he has played in the position before. But, there was a lot of rustiness in the Vermaelen’s game, in what was his first outing of the season. The Belgian failed to provide anything going forward and was sucked out of position all too often. Beaten too easily by El Zhar for the equaliser as well before being replaced shortly after.
Ivan Rakitic: 6/10
One of the better performers on a dismal night for Barcelona, Rakitic was a workhorse in the middle of the park, although he wasn’t always effective with those around him faltering. Almost scored the equaliser for Barcelona, only to be denied by a superb Ivan Cuellar save.
Sergio Busquets: 5/10
A rare night when nothing came to fruition for Busquets. The experienced midfielder suffered one too many moments of lapse, with several passes being misplaced. Leganes might just have exposed a chink in his armour with their energetic display that caught Busquets unaware. Not quite surprising that Barcelona suffered on an off day for their lynchpin.
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
By far, the best performer on the night for Barcelona. Coutinho set the ball rolling with a brilliant volley that Cuellar didn’t have a reply to. Like the rest of the side though, his level dropped as well.
But, the Brazilian international still looked like the most potent threat for the visitors. Another player who denied by the brilliant Cuellar in the second half.
Lionel Messi: 5/10
Messi provided the pass for Coutinho’s goal, before coming close to finding the back of the net, only to be denied by the woodwork. But, that was as good as it got for the Barcelona superstar on the night, as Leganes effectively crowded him out, often forcing him to drop deep, which killed off his influence.
Messi did not enjoy the same understanding with Munir El Haddadi as he does with Luis Suarez either, and the absence of the marauding Jordi Alba for much of the game meant it was an unhappy evening for him.
Munir El Haddadi: 4/10
Given a rare opportunity to impress, Munir failed to grab it with both hands. Not nearly at his sharpest, the young striker was caught offside too many times, and his passing was very sloppy as well. Failing to count on such an opportunity will not serve the player well over the course of the season.
Ousmane Dembele: 5/10
Another player who needs to get back to basics. After a strong start to the season, Dembele has sort of gone missing in the last couple of outings, and it was more of the same on Wednesday. The Frenchman lost possession a number of times, and didn’t link up well either. An outing that mirrored the slump of last season, which Dembele ought to escape quickly.
Luis Suarez: 6/10
On for Munir as Valverde sought more urgency in the final third. But, Suarez too, lacked the cutting edge to make the difference on a night when Barcelona were too jaded.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
Alba finally put an end to Vermaelen’s misery by coming on with around 20 minutes left. Barcelona looked a completely different side with the Spaniard on the pitch, but it was too little too late to make a difference.
On for Dembele, Malcom was thrown into the deep end in what was not exactly an ideal scenario for him. Should start against Bilbao on the weekend though.