Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong starred for Barcelona as they cruised to a 5-1 win over Ferencvaros in the opening UEFA Champions League fixture.
Ferencvaros took the game to their more illustrious hosts and had a couple of fine chances before Barcelona took command of the proceedings. The deadlock was broken midway through the first half when Lionel Messi converted from the spot after being fouled by Adnan Kovacevic. Heading into half-time, the lead was doubled as Ansu Fati scored after being teed up by Frenkie de Jong.
Just ten minutes post the interval, Barcelona were three to the good, with Fati turning provider this time around as Philippe Coutinho scored from close range. The first major setback for Barcelona came in the 68th minute, as Gerard Pique was sent off for a needless foul on Tokmac Nguen. Ihor Kharatin took the resulting penalty and pulled one goal back for Ferencvaros.
However, Barcelona went on to put the game to bed in the final ten minutes, courtesy goals from Pedri and Ousmane Dembele. The result means Barcelona are early leaders in Group G ahead of their game against Juventus on Matchday 2. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ronald Koeman’s men.
A quiet game for the most part for Neto, who was only called into action once through the ninety minutes. Having said that, the Brazilian was fortunate to see Isael smash the woodwork in the first half. Extremely accurate with the ball at his feet, Neto misplaced just two passes. Could not have done much to deny Ihor Kharatan from the spot.
Sergi Roberto: 7/10
A much improved display from Roberto, who benefited from the way Trincao played on the right flank. The Spanish international was a major factor going forward and even played in a couple of key passes. Defensively, he did not have a great deal to do, but cleaned his act up well at the back when required. Most importantly, some positive signs in the final third.
Gerard Pique: 4/10
A difficult game that ended in perplexing manner for Pique. The veteran defender had his fair share of problems against Tokmac Nguen all through the game, although he was still imperious in the air, winning each of his aerial duels. However, there was no need to bring Nguen down when the game was already won. He now misses the important game against Juventus.
Clement Lenglet: 6/10
Like Pique, Lenglet was not entirely comfortable against the nippy customer that was Nguen. The Frenchman, though, had his moments at the back, making 6 clearances while completing 4 interceptions. Incredibly efficient during build-up play, he lost possession just four times all game. Will need to be the leader at the back against Juventus.
Sergino Dest: 7/10
Starting a second successive game on the left side of the Barcelona defence, Dest continued to show a lot of promise. Despite being a right-back by trade, the summer arrival was comfortable on the left flank. The youngster won each of his duel while boasting an impressive 91 percent passing rate. Showing great chemistry with Ansu Fati.
Frenkie de Jong: 9/10
Yesterday, in Camp Nou: a duo for the future. Amazing Frenkie de Jong assist for Ansu Fati to score. Shout out to Coutinho, whose run towards Frenkie opened up space for Fati. The Champion's League is back! #Barcelona #FCBFER pic.twitter.com/9gHBmlrD8W
— Last Row (@lastrowview) October 21, 2020
Heading into the game, the pressure had been mounting on de Jong after a couple of poor displays. Against Ferencvaros, though, the Dutchman was back to his best, pulling strings from the middle of the park quite comfortably. He completed 74 of his 79 attempted passes while delivering quite a delightful assist for Fati. Getting back in form at just the right time.
Miralem Pjanic: 6/10
Making his first start for Barcelona, Pjanic showed that he still has some way to go before he can rightfully stake claim for a regular berth in the middle of the park. The Bosnian did deliver 2 key passes, but managed to win just 2 of his 6 contested duels. Ought to be a factor once he comes up to the required pace. Will likely relinquish his place to Sergio Busquets against Real Madrid.
Francisco Trincao: 8/10
Back into the starting lineup, Trincao was making his Champions League debut versus Ferencvaros. However, there was no sense of stage fright, with the Portuguese boasting a bag full of tricks, all while retaining the ball smartly. He ought to have had an assist as well, only to see Fati’s shot from his cut-back being saved superbly. Growing in stature.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 21, 2020
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
Replacing Pedri in the starting lineup, Coutinho was not quite at his best. The Brazilian did score a fine goal in the second half and linked up well with Fati and Trincao. However, he was a little wasteful with the ball at his feet, at times. Nevertheless, he continued to remain creative and played a couple of key passes as well.
Ansu Fati: 8/10
Another player who was back in the starting lineup. Fati was a bundle of energy and always looked to make things happen in the final third. The youngster brilliantly latched on to de Jong’s lobbed ball before finding the back of the net. Fati then delivered the assist for Coutinho’ goal before being hooked off, perhaps with the thought of preserving him for this weekend’s El Clasico.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
With Antoine Griezmann benched, Messi was back leading the line for Barcelona on Tuesday. The switch in positions brought the best out of him, with the Barcelona captain being relentless in the final third. The youngsters around him raised their games due to his influence as well.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 20, 2020
Messi’s trickery earned him a penalty, which he converted without much of a fuss, becoming the first ever player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns. Messi also ended the game with an assist, teeing up Ousmane Dembele for his late goal. All in all, he was a constant menace on Tuesday and seems to be in great touch ahead of the Clasico.
Junior Firpo: 6/10
On for Sergi Roberto, Firpo slotted in the left-back slot and used the last half hour or so to build his sharpness. With Jordi Alba unavailable, Firpo’s fitness and form could be key, especially if Roberto is not fit enough to start this weekend.
Introduced in place of Fati, Pedri looked intent on leaving his mark on the game and showed great resourcefulness in the final third. Ended the game with his maiden goal for Barcelona, a fine finish that brought a gleeful smile to his face.
Barca's 2nd goal: 17-year-old Ansu Fati
Barca's 4th goal: 17-year-old Pedri
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 20, 2020
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
After being underwhelming against Getafe, this was an important cameo for Dembele. And the French winger took his opportunity with both hands. Dembele set Pedri up for his goal before finding the back of the net himself late on. Ought to be quite a confidence booster.
Ronald Araujo: 6/10
Brought on after Pique’s dismissal, Araujo ensured Ferencvaros did not get on top of Barcelona late on.
Sergio Busquets: N/A
Busquets was on the pitch for 15 minutes and helped see the game out.