Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Gerard Pique stood out while Lionel Messi disappointed as Barcelona fell to a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid on Sunday.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen made crucial saves and Gerard Pique made an incredible goal-line block while Lionel Messi and Arthur were thwarted as the game remained goalless heading into the final 20 minutes. The deadlock was broken in the 71st minute, as Vinicius Jr. had his shot deflected into the net by Pique, leaving ter Stegen helpless at his near post.
The defeat was complete late on as Mariano Diaz scored deep into injury time to make it 2-0. The result meant Barcelona dropped down to second on the La Liga table, with Real Madrid leapfrogging them to the top spot. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Quique Setien’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
This was the umpteenth time that ter Stegen rose to the occasion, making a stunning fingertip save to deny Isco’s shot, which seemed to be headed to the top corner. Another save with his foot kept Real Madrid at bay.
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However, ter Stegen could not have done anything to deny Vinicius Jr. after Gerard Pique deflected the ball past him. The Barcelona no. 1, though, could have denied Mariano Diaz his goal and was beaten far too easily at his near post. Nevertheless, ter Stegen did as much as he could to keep Barcelona in teh game.
Nelson Semedo: 7/10
A top class performance by Semedo, who played a key role in ensuring Barcelona dominated the proceedings in the first half. Kept a check on Vinicius superbly for the first hour or so and was not dribbled past just twice all game. Also completed 8 tackles and won a staggering 14 duels. Out of position for the first Real Madrid goal after being dragged out of position by Karim Benzema.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
In what has been a season blighted with inconsistency, this was one of Pique’s best performances, even though it ended in a whimper. For the first three quarters of the game, the veteran defender was a class apart at the heart of the Barcelona defence.
His numbers make for an incredible reading, with Pique making 6 clearances, blocking 2 shots and making a couple of interceptions as well. One of the aforementioned blocks saw him stop Isco from scoring. In the end, though, all the good work was undone as Vinicius Jr. scored after having his shot deflected off Pique. Quite the dampener.
Samuel Umtiti: 5/10
Umtiti was not as bad as the rating might suggest. In fact, for much of the game, he combined well with Pique to shut out Karim Benzema to a great extent. However, the Frenchman lost out a few duels, including the one that led to Mariano Diaz scoring the second Real Madrid goal. It is errors such as this one that is prompting fans to call for Clement Lenglet to be back in the side.
Jordi Alba: 5/10
Back in the side immediately after returning from his injury-enforced layoff, Alba was lively to begin with and set up a decent chance for Antoine Griezmann. However, as the game wore on, it became clear that the Spanish international was not at his fittest. That proved to be telling in the second half, when Real Madrid were all over Barcelona.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
An uneventful and unspectacular outing for de Jong, who was precise with his passing, but hardly made any that split the Real Madrid defence and left them with back-pedaling. Hardly active in the defensive phase either, with Sergio Busquets often mopping up in the middle of the park. Whimper of a game.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Much like the midweek draw with Napoli, Busquets was a crucial cog in the middle of the park. Sitting at the base of the midfield unit, the veteran midfielder was superb, completing 3 tackles and making as many interceptions.
Looked to play the ball long at times to catch the players on the run, which he did accurately. Hardly overrun in the middle of the park, as Real Madrid bypassed him smartly by concentrating a lot of their attacks through the flanks. Did his job.
Like Busquets, Arthur was quite impressive, starting with the early chance that he set up for Griezmann, only to see the Frenchman make a meal of it. Denied by a stunning save by the colossal Courtois, but kept on trying to make things happen. Hardly lost possession either in what was a solid display.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
Yet again preferred as an auxiliary forward, Vidal was not quite at his best. However, his combative outlook towards the game helped Barcelona keep a check on Real Madrid and their passing flow. This was evident when the hosts opened Barcelona up with ease soon after he was taken off. With the ball at his feet, though, he could have done much better.
Lionel Messi: 5/10
An off day for the Barcelona captain, who did not have things go his way at all on Sunday. Messi did have a couple of sights at goal, but was once denied by Courtois before being stopped in his tracks by the solid Marcelo. Failed to get the better of the Brazilian during the game and lost the ball an astounding 17 times. A rare blip, but one that could be decisive come the end of the season.
Antoine Griezmann: 5/10
Much like Messi, Griezmann had a couple of fine chances coming his way, only for his profligacy to mess those chances up. Bar those openings, the Frenchman was rather anonymous, although he did work hard in the defensive phase. However, more is expected from the World Cup winner.
Martin Braithwaite: 6/10
On for Vidal, Braithwaite came close to scoring soon after being subbed in, only to become one of many to be denied by Courtois. Put a shift in off the ball, as Real Madrid piled on the pressure in the final 20 minutes.
Ivan Rakitic: N/A
Brought on in place of Arthur, Rakitic hardly had any time to make an impact.
Ansu Fati: N/A
A late introduction, Fati, too, barely had any time to influence the proceedings.