Barcelona secured qualification to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Inter Milan at San Siro
Lionel Messi was not included in the matchday squad, even though he had travelled to Milan with the Catalans. But, Barcelona started the match on the front foot, pretty much in the same vein as they had in the reverse fixture last month.
Inter Milan had Samir Handanovic to thank for keeping them in the tie. Barcelona’s own profligacy was to blame as well, while the Nerazzurri had a couple of chances to break the deadlock themselves. The elusive goal finally came in the 83rd minute, and it was Barcelona who had taken the lead.
Malcom, who had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes, scored his first goal for Barcelona, on his Champions League debut for them to put his side on the cusp of sealing top spot in Group B. But, there was time for late drama, as Inter went on to level the scoreline through captain Mauro Icardi.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 6, 2018
Despite dropping two points though, Barcelona confirmed their place in the Round of 16 by reaching the magical 10-point mark. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men following a hard fought contest at San Siro.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
A spectator for the most part on Tuesday, ter Stegen had very little to do for the most part, with Inter not having a shot on target till the 87th minute. That was the moment when Mauro Icardi found the back of the net to level the scores, and the Barcelona no. 1 could not have done much to deny the Argentine.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
Roberto is one of the players who has stepped up for Barcelona in recent weeks. But, the versatile Spaniard was far from his best on Tuesday, failing to make much of a mark on his forward forays while also having his hands full with Ivan Perisic whenever Inter pressed forward. Was beaten by Icardi for the hosts’ equaliser as well.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
A solid performance by Pique, who has been much improved in recent weeks. There was no way past the experienced defender in the air, and he also read the game well – evident in the tackle he made to deny Icardi from going clean through in the second half.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
Another game wherein Lenglet continued his settling in at Barcelona. The Frenchman looked at home alongside Pique as the visitors restricted Inter for large parts of the game. Looked comfortable on the ball as always. Umtiti will find it tough to walk back into the side whenever he returns to full fitness.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Alba, in typical fashion, marauded up and down the left flank with deadly precision. In fact, he looked better on the defensive front than in the final third, where his deliveries didn’t quite have the desired effect. A crunching tackle to bring an Inter counter-attack to a grinding halt was the standout moment for the Spaniard.
Ivan Rakitic: 7/10
A solid night’s work for Rakitic, who linked up well with Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez. Wasteful at times though, his passing let him down. But, he was one of many Barcelona players thwarted by an inspired Samir Handanovic, who was colossal on the night.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
Solid as ever, Busquets absorbed all the pressure that the Nerazzurri looked to create, leaving them frustrated and out of options. But, after dominating the midfield for almost the entirety of the game, the experienced midfielder failed to deal with a stray ball that led to Icardi for the equaliser. A poor moment that dampened a strong outing.
Arthur completed 97% of his passes and created 2 goal-scoring chances vs Inter. pic.twitter.com/1RQNBY4wxi
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) November 6, 2018
After being eased into the side, Arthur has well and truly cemented his place in the Barcelona midfield. And, his performance on Tuesday was indicative of the same, as the Brazilian international pulled the strings while also providing an industrious presence in the middle of the park. Sloppy at times, but the positives far outweighed the negatives.
Ousmane Dembele: 6/10
Dembele was the brightest spark for Barcelona in the early exchanges, even forcing Handanovic into a fine outstretched save. But, the Frenchman faded in impact as the game progressed, and as is the case with him usually, he was wasteful in possession as well. Gave way for Malcom in the 81st minute.
Luis Suarez: 7.5/10
Suarez never stopped trying on the night. But, the elusive European goal just won’t be scored by the Uruguayan, who has to lament his luck after Tuesday’s outing, although he could have done better with a couple of attempts. A leader in attack, Suarez’s movement also helped bring Philippe Coutinho and Dembele into the game. The European goal can’t come soon enough.
Philippe Coutinho: 7.5/10
Coutinho was back to his first club in Europe, and he looked like a man on a mission for the most part. But, he was another player who could not find a way past Handanovic, despite the seven shots that he aimed towards the Inter Milan goal. Ended the night on a high though, as he set up Malcom’s goal.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
On for Arthur, Vidal looked to drive Barcelona forward with his surging runs. Helped retain control of the game and will be hoping for more game time going forward.
Malcom in the Champions League:
⏰ 9 minutes
☄️ 1 shot
⚽ 1 goal
If he keeps this rate up… 😂 pic.twitter.com/V2dCU7ak35
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 6, 2018
Thrown into the game for the final ten minutes as Barcelona desperately searched for a goal, Malcom earned his Champions League bow for the visitors before making an instant impact with an intelligent effort that finally got the better of Handanovic. Will hope the goal signals a turnaround after a difficult start to life at Camp Nou.