Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong were the shining lights as Barcelona secured a narrow yet important 1-0 win over Levante in La Liga on Sunday.
Barcelona lifted some pressure off their shoulders with an important 1-0 win over Levante at home on Sunday. Lionel Messi was the difference-maker for the Catalan giants this time around, with his goal in 76th minute helping his team close the gap to Atletico Madrid at the top.
The hosts were the better side for the majority of the game, and in truth, responded well following a 3-0 thumping at the hands of Juventus in midweek. They did, however, looked vulnerable at times on the counter, which is where Levante tried to capitalise on, especially during the first half.
Barcelona did manage to up their game after the restart, though, as they created a flurry of chances. The Spanish giants, however, were far from clinical in their finish throughout the course of the game, with Clement Lenglet notably missing an excellent opportunity from close range early on in the first half.
In the end, they had to rely on a tidy finish from star man Messi to find the opener during the final phase of the game. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Barcelona players following their crucial win over Levante this past weekend.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7.5/10
Marc-Andre ter Stegen did not exactly have too much to do in this game, but it was his save to deny Jorge de Frutos in what was a big chance for Levante early on in the game. It was a confident performance overall for the German as he remained strong between the sticks and deservedly clinched the clean sheet.
Sergino Dest: 7/10
Sergino Dest offered pace and dynamism as usual with his forays down the flanks. In fact, he played a key role in Barcelona’s approach play, although the right-back still needs a lot to learn, particularly in terms of ball retention. He also needs to improve his concentration in order to prevent conceding possession.
Ronald Araujo: 7.5/10
Coming back from a nightmarish performance against Juventus, Ronald Araujo came back strong and was by far Barcelona’s best defender on the night. The Uruguayan kept his composure, proving himself to be quite competent despite Levante managing to provide some threat on the counter.
My account had a name but Ronald Araujo cleared it 🤷 pic.twitter.com/7c0oiNcDup
— . (@InjectNeymar) December 13, 2020
Clement Lenglet: 6/10
Unlike his defensive teammate, it was not the best of performances for Clement Lenglet. He desperately needs to improve on his defensive game and a miss from close range certainly won’t help in building his confidence. Ronald Koeman should perhaps entertain the idea of benching the Frenchman in favour of his compatriot Samuel Umtiti.
Jordi Alba: 6.5/10
Jordi Alba was not as involved on the proceedings as Dest on the opposite flank. The Spaniard did, however, showcase excellent positioning sense during the defensive phases throughout the course of the game, though his offensive endeavours were far from effective.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5/10
Starting ahead of Miralem Pjanic and Riqui Puig, Sergio Busquets kept things neat and tidy in midfield. It did not affect the game much, though it did help Barcelona sustain pressure on Levante thanks to their lion’s share of possession they enjoyed. The ageing midfielder was ultimately subbed off around the hour mark.
Frenkie de Jong: 8/10
Frenkie de Jong was one of the best performers for Barcelona in this fixture. The Dutchman camped himself in Levante’s defensive third, providing the necessary support as well as the passing option for his fellow teammates. It worked all too well for the youngster, who was flawless in possession while also providing the assist for the winner.
Frenkie De Jong Vs Levante
90 minutes played.
92% pass accuracy.
55 Accurate Passes.
5 key passes.
6 ground duels won.
1 big chance created.
3 Accurate Long balls.
— Spandan (@ZerotuoNinety) December 13, 2020
Antoine Griezmann: 7/10
Antoine Griezmann showed a lot of tenacity in the right wing role against Levante. The ex-Atletico Madrid forward may not have made a telling impact, but it was his hard work and determination that resulted in him creating a useful turnover in midfield, with the move eventually initiating into a counter-attack that led to Messi’s goal.
Lionel Messi: 8/10
Lionel Messi was once again brilliant, showcasing his skill and dynamism to make himself a nuisance for Levante. The Argentine was rather unfortunate to not find a goal earlier in the game, but will be happy to have netted his fifth goal of the campaign, which takes his tally to 642 goals for Barcelona – just one behind Pele’s exceptional record 643 goals for one club (Santos).
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 13, 2020
Philippe Coutinho: 6/10
Philippe Coutinho had a relatively more difficult time when compared to his attacking teammates. The ex-Liverpool star looked desperate to find the back of the net and make an impression, perhaps due to his dissipating form in recent weeks. His frustration translated into a rather ineffective performance in the final third.
Martin Brathwaite: 7/10
While Messi & co. offered creativity and quality in Barcelona’s approach play, it was Martin Brathwaite whose more robust style of play made life even more difficult for the Levante defenders. The Dane may not have found the back of the net, but it was an impactful display, although the striker should have at least scored one goal.
Pedri was introduced around the hour mark, at the expense of Busquets. He immediately improved Barcelona’s attacking game by adding his youthful exuberance into the final third. This performance does not bode well for Coutinho, though.
Francisco Trincao: 6.5/10
Came on for Coutinho during the final phase of the game, but unlike Pedri, the Portuguese youngster did not make too much of an impact going forward.
Samuel Umtiti: N/A
A late replacement for Lenglet. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.