Frenkie de Jong scored the only goal of the game as Barcelona defeated bottom feeders SD Huesca 1-0 at Estadio El Alcoraz on Sunday night.
Barcelona were all over Huesca from the get-go with Pedri spurning a couple of early chances while Lionel Messi too missed an opportunity. However, the first goal did come in the 27th minute as Frenkie de Jong tapped in Messi’s cross to put the Catalans in front.
Ronald Koeman’s side continued to control the proceedings but some brilliant goalkeeping from Alvaro Fernandez ensured that they were unable to add to their scoreline with the Huesca custodian denying Lionel Messi on multiple occasions as well as Ousmane Dembele.
At the other end, Marc-Andre ter Stegen hardly had a save to make but stayed alert to a couple of efforts from Rafa Mir, Javi Ontiveros and Juan Carlos Real as Barcelona held on to their lead to seal a much-needed win. The result meant that the Blaugrana moved to fifth place in the table, ten points below leaders Atletico Madrid.
Here’s how we rated the performances of the Barcelona stars on the night.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
The German international had very little to do in the first half, with Huesca mounting little threat. While Barcelona continued to control the game, the hosts did conjure up a few chances, but ter Stegen was equal to it. Produced a fine stop to deny Rafa Mir and was at hand to keep out Ontiveros and Juan Carlos Real as well. Misplaced just two of his 19 passes and did very well to clear a poor backpass from Sergio Busquets with his head.
Sergino Dest: 6/10
Offered a constant outlet down the right flank as he played in two key passes and completed 95% of his passes on the night. But the USMNT star’s end product was not up to the mark once again. That is something that he will need to improve upon in the coming weeks. Made way for Oscar Mingueza in the second half.
Ronald Araujo: 6.5/10
Not a lot of defensive work to do for the centre-back with his team dominating. But was alert to whatever danger that came his way, finishing with two tackles, two interceptions, three clearances and four aerial duels won. Was composed with the ball at his feet as well, completing 59 of his 63 passes.
Clement Lenglet: 6.5/10
Much like his defensive partner, Lenglet, too, was hardly tested by the home team and did well to remain focused when they did push for an equaliser late on. Assured on the ball as he helped build play from the back, completing as many as 100 of his 103 passes, including two key passes.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Jordi Alba started 2021 on the right foot, and had a great performance against Huesca at El Alcoraz. Barça's left-back was incisive going forward, and the first dangerous chances in Huesca were created by him. [md] pic.twitter.com/0pBWQ0QKA0
— barcacentre (@barcacentre) January 4, 2021
Back into the starting XI after missing the Eibar game with suspension, the Spaniard was in his elements on the night. Got forward with great purpose and showed some neat link-ups with the likes of Dembele, Messi and Pedri. Put in a few dangerous crosses while also coming close with a shot in the first period. Attempted (118) and completed (111) the most number of passes and threaded in three key passes as well.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
Reinstated to the Barcelona midfield at the expense of Miralem Pjanic, the veteran star had a pretty comfortable outing apart from the moment when he put his goalkeeper under pressure with a poor backpass. Did well to win back possession in midfield and play them to his more attack-minded teammates, completing 95% of his passes. Also made a couple of interceptions and tackles.
Frenkie de Jong: 7/10
📊[OPTA] | Frenkie de Jong has been involved in three goals in his last five starts in LaLigaEN (2 goals and 1 assist), only one fewer than he had in his previous 34 starts in the competition (2 goals and 2 assists). pic.twitter.com/HvpcMMWLON
— Barca Times Stats (@Stats_BT) January 4, 2021
The match-winner for Barcelona on the night, de Jong made a good run into the box to get on the end of Messi’s cross and find the back of the net. Neat and tidy in possession, kept things ticking with his accurate passing while worked hard to help out defensively when needed.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
Back into the side after missing the last game due to an injury, the Barcelona skipper looked in his elements from the get-go on what was his 500th La Liga appearance. Created the only goal of the game for de Jong and could have had a couple of goals himself, one from a free-kick and another from close range, if not for some brilliant goalkeeping by Fernandez. Played one key pass and completed a match-high eight dribbles.
Lionel Messi becomes the first non-Spanish player to reach 500 LaLiga games in the competition's history.
Continuing to set records. https://t.co/EK77tXjMkg
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 3, 2021
A fine performance from the youngster, who linked up very well with Messi throughout. There were some silky touches and nifty one-touch passes on display as the teenager completed four key passes and made two dribbles. The only blemish on his display was his lack of clinical edge in front of goal as he failed to convert two very good chances in the first half, which reduces his rating.
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
Reinstated to the starting XI after his impressive performance off the bench against Eibar, Dembele posed a lot of problems to the Huesca defence with his direct running and pace. Created a fine chance for Pedri, which he failed to take, while the Frenchman himself had a couple of opportunities but was thwarted by Javi Galan once and goalkeeper Fernandez another time.
Martin Braithwaite: 5/10
Not a lot to go on for the Dane as he came up against a Huesca defence that sat deep. There was no lack of effort as he worked very hard off the ball, but he could not really get himself into any sort of goalscoring positions, before making way for Antoine Griezmann.
Closer look at Braithwaite’s heat map…😬😶 pic.twitter.com/m2tuGnL7QF
— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) January 4, 2021
Oscar Mingueza: N/A
Came on to replace Dest in the 75th minute. Hardly involved, as he made 11 touches and completed five passes.
Miralem Pjanic: N/A
On for Busquets for the last fifteen minutes. Shot over from a decent position.
Antoine Griezmann: N/A
Replaced Braithwaite for the final ten minutes. Had just four touches.