Marc-Andre ter Stegen was the only bright spot for Barcelona as they suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla on Saturday.
It was a game wherein Barcelona had the bulk of the possession and aimed more shots at the opposition goal, but Valencia fashioned the better of the chances. In fact, if not for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the Blaugrana would have been at least one goal down going into half-time, as the German saved a spot-kick by Maxi Gomez, after Gerard Pique had conceded the penalty with a poor tackle.
Valencia took a well deserved lead three minutes post the interval as Gomez’s powerful effort was deflected by Jordi Alba into the back of his own net. The win was then rounded off when Gomez curled a close range effort past ter Stegen. With Quique Setien suffering the first defeat of his reign as the Barcelona manager, The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over his charges.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8/10
It is highly unusual for a goalkeeper to be rated 8/10 when they have conceded two goals. However, ter Stegen was the sole reason that Barcelona were even in the contest till Maxi Gomez scored the final goal. Guessed correctly for the penalty and made four further saves. As is the case in several games, ter Stegen exuded brilliance in goal. Could not have done much for either goal.
Sergi Roberto: 4/10
Part of the back three once again, Roberto showed little signs of adjusting to the new role. The Spanish international was unaware of his positioning at times, including for Valencia’s second goal. If Setien does want to persist with his style, Roberto would be better suited to play as a wing-back, especially seeing as Clement Lenglet is waiting in the wings to feature in the back three.
Gerard Pique: 3/10
Quite a horrendous showing by Pique, who struggled to be the leader at the back for Barcelona. The lowest ebb for Pique was his senseless challenge to concede a penalty midway through the first half, although he was bailed out by ter Stegen. Continued to look out of sorts and failed to organise the defence while also getting sucked out of position. Irresponsible.
Samuel Umtiti: 5/10
Umtiti was quite easily the best Barcelona defender on the day, but that hardly says much when the defence as a unit failed miserably. The errors are starting to creep into his game, which is a major concern and while he did have some positive moments pertaining to his reading of the game, the Frenchman is far from his best. Needs to make major improvements.
Ansu Fati: 5/10
The absence of Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele has given Fati an opportunity, but the youngster just is not taking his chances. It is perhaps harsh to judge a 17-year-old with such a high standard, but that is the benchmark that Fati has set for himself. That being said, Fati was one of Barcelona’s better players in the second half after a forgettable first period, combining well with Lionel Messi.
Frenkie de Jong: 5/10
Playing his first La Liga game under Setien, de Jong needed to take it upon himself to be the creative force for Barcelona. However, the Dutchman just could not manage to get himself into the game and was rather wasteful in possession. A rare off day, but it is two league games in a row now that de Jong has faltered in.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
Quite easily the best among the starters from Barcelona. Busquets held his own in the middle of the park and was hardly overrun in the first half. The veteran set a quick tempo to the game and looked to recycle possession efficiently. However, he faded as the second half progressed, which is when the second goal became a possibility.
Back into the starting lineup for the first time since December 1, this was Arthur’s chance to prove himself. However, the Brazilian was unable to make any sort of impact, with the game passing him by. Lacked precision and progression with his passing and it was little wonder that he was the first player to be taken off by Setien.
Jordi Alba: 4/10
A game to forget for Alba, who needed to take charge of the attacking bursts, but saw his opposite number Daniel Wass make more of an impact on the creative front instead. Cannot be faulted for a lack of effort, but the end product was just not there. To make matters worse, Alba deflected the ball past ter Stegen when Gomez shot a powerful effort, although he seemed to know little about it.
Lionel Messi: 5.5/10
A frustrating evening for Messi. Nothing he tried came off on the day and that barely ever happens with the Barcelona captain. Even his oft-menacing free-kicks lacked bite and he struggled to test Jaume Domenech all game. That being said, Messi looked like the only player who was capable of making any sort of difference.
Antoine Griezmann: 5/10
Much like Alba, Griezmann never stopped trying throughout the game. However, the Frenchman, who was instrumental against UD Ibiza earlier in the week, was just not quite into it on the day and cut a rather forlorn figure. Such performances have been few and far between lately, which would make one think that this is but a blip.
Arturo Vidal: 7/10
On for Arthur, it was an all-action performance by Vidal which made him a menace for the Valencia midfielders to deal with. Looked to push Barcelona forward at every opportunity and aimed to harry the opposition when off the ball. One player who looked like he could make himself count, but in the end, it hardly counted for much.
Ivan Rakitic: N/A
Brought on with five minutes left in regulation time, Rakitic barely had any time to make an impact.
Alex Collado: N/A
Another late introduction, Collado hardly even got a touch on the ball.