Frenkie de Jong and Ivan Rakitic were underwhelming Luis Suarez was the standout for Barcelona, as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Espanyol on Saturday.
Barcelona were clearly second best in the first half, wherein Espanyol took the lead through David Lopez quarter of the game through. However, post the break Barcelona improved considerably and pulled back to level terms just five minutes in, as Luis Suarez converted Jordi Alba’s cross. Ten minutes later, Suarez turned provider, setting up Arturo Vidal with a peach of a cross.
But, the tide turned when Frenkie de Jong was sent off for a second bookable offence, with 15 minutes left. Espanyol duly pounced on the numerical difference, as Wu Lei scored the equaliser late on. With Real Madrid beating Getafe earlier on Saturday, Barcelona are only atop the summit of La Liga on goal difference. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Making his league debut for Barcelona, Neto had a fairly quiet day at the office. Made just one save all game and could not have done anything to deny David Lopez for the opener. However, the low point of his performance came with Espanyol’s equaliser, as he was slow to react to the situation at hand. Distribution could do with some improvement and a nervy moment late on stood out.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
As the debate over Barcelona’s ideal right-back rages on, this was a missed opportunity for Roberto. Linked up well with Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong going down the right flank, but end product left a lot to be desired. Did not have the best of times against Oscar Melendo and looked out of sorts when filling in as a midfielder following de Jong’s dismissal.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
The better of the four Barcelona defenders on the night, although that hardly says much. Showed his technical prowess when building up from the back and was imposing in the air for the most part, although he messed up in the key moment when David Lopez put Espanyol ahead. Often covered the ground for Roberto, but needs to organise the backline better.
Clement Lenglet: 5/10
A poor start to the calendar year for Lenglet, who looked off pace for much of the game. Struggled against the nippy movement of Jonathan Calleri. However, the kicker came late in the game, when he was horribly positioned for Wu Lei’s goal. Might now lose his spot to Samuel Umtiti in Supercopa de Espana.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Not the best of games defensively for Alba, who especially struggled in the opening 45 minutes of the game. Improved post the break and was pivotal for Luis Suarez’s goal, supplying the cross for the equaliser. Continued posing a threat for the remainder of the game, but in the crucial moment late on, he was caught out of position as the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Frenkie de Jong: 3/10
A game to forget for de Jong, who produced his worst performance in Barcelona colours. Made the error in the lead-up to Espanyol’s first. Otherwise, de Jong was enjoying a solid game, having made 7 recoveries and won 6 duels before making seeing red. With de Jong having been sent off, the numerical disadvantage clearly affected Barcelona.
Sergio Busquets: 5/10
A tough outing for Busquets, who often had to cover up a lot of ground, and particularly in the final 15 minutes. However, the veteran Spaniard was overrun with ease at times in the middle of the park and in the first half, he struggled to set a quick tempo to the game, as Barcelona struggled to impose themselves.
Ivan Rakitic: 3/10
In what has been a bizarre season on a personal level for Rakitic, this was perhaps the lowest ebb. The Croat just could not manage to get himself into the game and was a passenger through the first half. Uncharacteristically wasteful with the ball at his feet as well, and was rightly taken off at half-time as Valverde sought a turnaround.
Lionel Messi: 6/10
A sub-par game for Messi by his enormous standards. The Barcelona captain did have his fair share of positive moments on the night, but he could never really test Diego Lopez in the Espanyol goal. The most notable moment was when he dribbled past multiple Espanyol players before laying the ball on for Suarez, only to see the Uruguayan failing to convert. All in all, not quite at his best.
Luis Suarez: 8/10
The major reason why Barcelona even came back into the game. Suarez first levelled things up with a goal in the 50th minute. He then found Arturo Vidal with a peach of a pass. But, Suarez could have put the game to bed much before de Jong was sent off, missing two chances, although he was the reason Barcelona were in the game in the first place. A standout in every sense for Barcelona.
Antoine Griezmann: 5/10
An underwhelming performance by Griezmann, who was one of the form players for Barcelona coming into the game. There were flashes of his brilliance at times, but more often than not, the Frenchman struggled to get going. However, despite his struggles, the decision to take a player of his work rate was rather baffling.
Arturo Vidal: 8/10
💥💥💥💥💥💥 Six shots on target this season
⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽ Six goals
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 4, 2020
The game changing substitution by Valverde. Less than 15 minutes after being introduced, Vidal put Barcelona ahead, latching on to Suarez’s pass expertly, beefing up his tally to 6 goals for the season – he has played just 570 minutes in the league! Continued working hard for the remainder of the game and he was one of those players who can hold his head up high.
Nelson Semedo: N/A
On for Griezmann, Semedo did his part even as Barcelona stumbled to a 2-2 draw in the derby.