Barcelona suffered their third league defeat of the season when they were handed a 2-0 loss by Celta Vigo at the Balaidos on Saturday night.
With Ernesto Valverde naming an entirely new starting lineup compared to the one that played against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg earlier in the week, there was a chance at hand for the La Masia graduates and the fringe players to make an impression on the manager.
Barcelona did begin the stronger of the two sides, but were jolted early on when Ousmane Dembele had to pull out due to a hamstring injury. After the initial onslaught, however, Celta Vigo were the dominant side for the rest of the game, with the hosts pegging the newly crowned La Liga champions back.
But, the deadlock was not broken until midway through the second half, when Maximiliano Gomez scored from point-blank range beyond Jasper Cillessen. Barcelona could not produce the right kind of response and with two minutes left in regulation time, the win was rounded off when Iago Aspas scored a penalty.
The win, an inconsequential result for Barcelona following their title coronation last week, meant Celta Vigo have taken a big step towards securing safety. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Jasper Cillessen: 6/10
Donning the captain’s armband in the absence of the usual culprits, Cillessen was making his first appearance of the season in La Liga. Was alert to the threat posed by the crosses from the Celta Vigo wide men, but handling was a bit off on one moment, when he was let off by the offside flag. Could not have done much to deny either Gomez or Aspas.
Moussa Wague: 7/10
The regular right-backs were handed a rest on Saturday, meaning Moussa Wague got a chance to impress Valverde. And, impress he did, with the teenager being a constant outlet down the right flank while also being solid in completing his responsibilities at the back. A step in the right direction.
Jean-Clair Todibo: 7/10
Another of the youngsters making a rare start, Todibo was the best of the defenders on the night. The young Frenchman oozed confidence while intercepting play, although he tended to over-complicate things when on the ball. Nevertheless, it was a solid performance, which was cut short by injury.
Samuel Umtiti: 5/10
For much of the game, Umtiti was diligent in his responsibilities at the back, while also taking on the responsibility to be the leader in defence. But, the fact that he switched off in the two pivotal moments of the game means he can get no higher than 5 despite a largely strong showing.
Thomas Vermaelen: 5/10
Handed a rare start on the night, Vermaelen was deployed as a left-back by Valverde. And, as had been the case in his last few outings in the position, the Belgian looked out of place, and found the pace of Ryad Boudebouz hard to deal with. Offered nothing going forward either, in what was an outing to forget.
Riqui Puig: 7/10
2018-19 has been a season that has seen Riqui Puig starting to be slowly integrated into the first-team setup. And, while things might not have gone his way entirely, this was a performance that offered a lot of promise for the future. Showed a lot of desire while off the ball in addition to being confident on it. Needed better support on the night.
With neither Ivan Rakitic nor Sergio Busquets playing, Arthur started as the deepest midfielder. And, it was a game of two halves for the Brazilian, who looked to be pulling the strings quite effortlessly in the first 45 minutes, but was left overwhelmed by the barrage of Celta Vigo attacks in the second half. A rare such performance, though.
Carles Alena: 6/10
For Alena, this was a chance to stake claim for a more regular role, had he taken more responsibility in a team that was lacking experience. But, while the young Spaniard had quite a few positive moments, his end product was not quite there on Saturday.
Ousmane Dembele: N/A
Dembele did not even last the first five minutes as another hamstring injury marred a frustrating season.
Kevin-Prince Boateng: 4/10
Boateng started off well, using his strength to good effect with and without the ball. But, he faded just as quickly. And, once Celta Vigo started dominating the proceedings, the Ghanaian striker was rendered anonymous. Poor hold-up play and little movement meant he could not help create pockets of space for his teammates to find him in.
Unlike the Huesca game, Malcom was given the opportunity in attack this time around. And, while the Brazilian worked his socks off, especially after moving to the right flank, his end product left a lot to be desired. These are the opportunities that he needs to grab, but is just not, at the moment.
Alex Collado: 6/10
Handed his first-team debut thanks to Dembele’s injury, Collado linked up well with Alena. But, it was clear that he was a bundle of nerves on the biggest day of his professional career thus far. Still, had some positive signs to show, although his tendency to drop deep was a major negative.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
Vidal was introduced as the driving force to get Barcelona to break the deadlock in the final half hour. But, with Celta Vigo dominating the proceedings, the Chilean did not get a lot of chances to make an impact.
Jeison Murillo: N/A
On for the injured Todibo, Murillo did not make any impact whatsoever.