Unconvincing Barcelona rode on Lionel Messi’s heroics to thump Celta Vigo 4-1 at home, leapfrogging rivals Real Madrid to the top of the La Liga table.
Barcelona were second best in the game for a considerable period of time. However, with Nelson Semedo earning a penalty and with Lionel Messi scoring from the spot, the hosts had the upper hand early in the game. Celta Vigo came back in the game when Lionel Messi fouled Pape Diop in a dangerous area just outside the box. Lucas Olaza grabbed the opportunity and restored parity with a stunning goal.
But fate had other ideas as Barcelona earned a free-kick late in the first half from a similar sort of angle. This time Messi stepped up and swerved it past Ruben Blanco into the top right corner. Messi’s magic allowed Ernesto Valverde’s underwhelming Barcelona to stay ahead at the break.
If Messi’s heroics in the first half were not enough for the spectators, he came up with another similar kind of free-kick. This time Blanco was alert but when the magician is on song you simply can’t stop him, as the ball cannoned past him into the right corner before Sergio Busquets made it 4-1 for Barcelona late in the game.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 9, 2019
This win puts Barcelona top of the La Liga table going into the international break and also allows Valverde some time to re-evaluate the areas of concern for his side. Here’s how we rated the performances of the Barcelona stars;
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 7/10
The German custodian was less busy of the two goalkeepers. However, he conceded a goal from a Lucas Olaza free-kick where he could have done better in terms of positioning. ter Stegen was also casual at times in playing the ball out from the back. Apart from that, he came up with some routine saves which were expected from him.
Nelson Semedo – 6.5/10
The Portuguese defender started the game brightly making overlapping runs and linking up play with the forwards. He made the first impact in the game when his attempted cross was handled by Josef Aidoo in the penalty area which led to a penalty for Barcelona. However, he was substituted on the 23rd minute due to an injury.
Gerard Pique – 7.5/10
Pique was comfortable for most of the game as Celta Vigo did not have a proper threat upfront with Iago Aspas failing to score goals consistently. He marshaled the backline well and covered up for Umtiti at times. All in all, it was a decent game for the experienced defender.
Samuel Umtiti – 7/10
Umtiti also had a pretty comfortable game with Celta lacking in the final third. However, the French defender gave away possession at times piling up the pressure on the Barcelona defence. He was also booked for a late reckless tackle very early in the game and was cautious from then on.
Junior Firpo – 6.5/10
The young left-back was taken aback by the occasion as he is still getting used to his new life at Barcelona. He was late to react on a few occasions and lacked precision with his passing. Gradually got his rhythm back but failed to be an attacking presence like Jordi Alba.
Arthur Melo – 7.5/10
The Brazilian midfielder was brilliant in the first half with his movement in the final third as he wriggled his way past multiple defenders creating openings for his team. He was an energetic presence in the middle of the field as he kept things ticking for most of the match.
Frenkie de Jong – 7/10
Like most of the midfielders, Frenkie de Jong also had a decent outing and got better as the game went on. The Celta Vigo midfielders, Lobotka and Beltran controlled the midfield and orchestrated play early but with Busquets’ introduction, Frenkie had more cover to play his natural game.
Sergi Roberto – 7/10
Started in midfield and later due to Semedo’s injury slotted back in the right-back position. Roberto was good with his overlapping runs but was troubled by Pione Sisto who got the better of the Spaniard a few times in the game. He was instrumental in some of Barcelona’s moves late in the game as he combined well with Dembele on the right flank in the second half.
Ansu Fati – 6.5/10
The 17-year old started the game ahead of Ousmane Dembele and did not have a huge impact in the game in the first half. He was involved in a few one-twos passes near the final third and also made a few runs down the left channel. However he is far from a finished product and Valverde should be patient with the teenager. Replaced by Ousmane Dembele in the second half.
Lionel Messi – 10/10
Literally carried this Barcelona side on his shoulders, as the Argentine magician stepped up yet again. He was guilty of conceding a free-kick in a dangerous area from which Olaza equalized. However, Messi came back to compensate for his mistake as he scored two world-class free-kicks in each half to put the hosts out of reach.
He had also scored the first goal in the game from the penalty spot and was involved in almost all the attacking buildups that Barcelona had. Exceptional.
📊 | #BarçaCelta | Leo Messi's stats against Celta Vigo:
84% Pass accuracy
2 Key passes
1 Big chance created
2 Long balls completed
2 Duels won
2/2 Dribbles completed.
Another day at the office for the 🐐 pic.twitter.com/Fp8U2rik0w
— BarçaTimes Statistics (@BT_Stats) November 9, 2019
Antoine Griezmann – 6/10
The Frenchman’s struggles continued as he at times seemed lost from the entire game. Looked out of form and also out of his preferred position on the left flank. He was not involved in much of Barcelona’s attacking buildup, though he had a great chance to get on the scoresheet, but it was saved by the Celta custodian. A lot more impact is expected from someone like Griezmann and currently, he is a shadow of himself.
Sergio Busquets – 8/10
The experienced midfielder came on for injured Semedo and slotted in as the defensive midfielder role just ahead of the backline. His presence added more stability to Barcelona’s overall gameplay and it allowed Arthur and de Jong to venture forward and aid the attackers. To top it all he also popped up with a goal late in the game as he was offered acres of space in the final third and he grabbed it with both hands and drilled it home.
Ousmane Dembele – 7/10
Came in for Fati in the second half and had an improved performance in comparison to the game against Slavia Prague. Dembele was a constant threat on the right side as he also swapped flanks at times to break the monotony. His blistering pace added a different dimension to Barcelona’s attack.
Luis Suarez – 6/10
Came in for Griezmann with 20 minutes to spare and did not have much impact in the game as Barcelona was paying more attention to close the game out.