Lionel Messi scored upon his return to the pitch, helping Barcelona secure a 2-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano in Copa Del Rey on Tuesday.
FC Barcelona advanced to the quarter-finals of the Copa Del Rey with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at Estadio de Vallecas on Wednesday.
It was not an easy game for Barcelona by any means, and certainly, an unlucky one as the visitors hit the post twice in the first half. They managed to create a few chances during the period but faced similar problems they had against Cornella in the previous in terms, as far as penetrating the opposing defence was concerned.
It was pretty much the story in the second half as well, with Lionel Messi, this time, hitting the crossbar. In addition, it was Rayo Vallecano, who took the lead against the run of play in the 63rd minute through Fran Garcia. Barcelona were quick to respond, however, with Messi scoring in the 69th minute before Frenkie de Jong scored another tap-in, around the 80th minute.
The Dutchman’s goal was enough to seal the late comeback victory and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Barcelona players following their narrow win over Rayo Vallecano this midweek.
Neto was merely a spectator throughout the course of the first-half as Rayo struggled to create a single clear-cut opportunity. However, the Barcelona goalkeeper had to remain alert after the restart, as he was tested on a few occasions. Couldn’t manage to get hold of the cross that led to Garcia’s opener.
Oscar Mingueza: 5/10
Oscar Mingueza was once again exposed in that right-back slot, where he felt uncomfortable. He doesn’t have the pace nor the attacking prowess to make himself useful in that position and it was reflected in this match. A rather poor showing from the youngster, who is certainly a better fit in a more central defensive role.
Ronald Araujo: 8/10
Ronald Araujo was once again a rock at the back for Barcelona in this game. His extraordinary precision in tackles and ability to read the game made it difficult for the opposition to cause too many problems going forward. In addition, the Uruguayan was a threat from set-pieces as well.
Barcelona have yet to taste defeat in La Liga with Ronald Araújo in the team.
This is no coincidence. El Muro de Rivera. pic.twitter.com/mqaFEScRoe
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) January 27, 2021
Clement Lenglet: 6.5/10
Starting ahead of Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet largely had a decent game as he provided additional defensive support for his partner Araujo. However, he was extremely incompetent in dealing with Alvaro Garcia, allowing the Rayo attacker to drift past him and provide the cross that led to the opener.
Junior Firpo: 6/10
It was yet another underwhelming display from Junior Firpo. The young left-back moved forward whenever it was necessary, but there was a lack of penetration in his deliveries and the overall tidiness was missing. He was eventually replaced midway through the second half, in favour of a more established Jordi Alba.
Riqui Puig: 6.5/10
Riqui Puig was one of the players who had hit the crossbar after a nice passage of play. The youngster did well to provide the distribution and transition in Barcelona’s approach play, but it wasn’t enough to make any difference. He was ultimately subbed off during the final phase of the game.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Starting ahead of Miralem Pjanic in light of his suspension in the next La Liga game against Athletic Bilbao, Sergio Busquets did what he does best, which is to distribute possession and occasionally recover the loose balls in midfield. He was a vital cog in the Barcelona midfield, keeping them ticking until the very end.
Frenkie de Jong: 8.5/10
Ronald Koeman’s decision to start Frenkie de Jong paid off as the young midfielder was very influential in the middle of the park. He was one of three players to hit the post in this game, but more importantly, he was a menace going forward for the most part of the second half.
Frenkie De Jong's performance against Rayo Vallecano:
• 72 touches
• 50 accurate passes
• 6/10 duels won
• 2/2 dribbles completed
• 3 key passes
• 1 goal
He has 5 goals and 4 assists on his name already this season. pic.twitter.com/PlU43fT4xi
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) January 27, 2021
The Dutchman was eventually rewarded with a late goal that turned out to be the winner. In addition, it was he who provided the through pass, leading to Messi’s equaliser. Undisputed man of the match.
Francisco Trincao: 6.5/10
Trincao was extremely lively during certain instances but lacked the consistency to complement his display. He linked up well with his teammates but was replaced by Pedri midway through the second half.
Lionel Messi: 8/10
After missing the last two games, Lionel Messi looked hungry to find the back of the net and showed a lot of intent. He came close to scoring early in the second half when his effort hit the post. He eventually found his goal in the 69th minute, thanks to an excellent forward pass from de Long and a simple cross from Antoine Griezmann.
The Argentine continued to influence the game even during the final stages. He was notably involved in the second goal as well, as a brilliant lofted through pass found Jordi Alba in behind the backline. One of the best performers in this tie.
Lionel Messi vs. Rayo Vallecano
2 Key Passes
11 Ground Duels
Showed up when the team needed him most. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/wEfDQXCuIO
— MessiTeam (@Lionel10Team) January 27, 2021
Antoine Griezmann: 7/10
Antoine Griezmann may not have been as influential as Messi or de Jong, but the Frenchman worked hard in the final third. He also linked up well with his teammates, before providing the assist for Messi’s equaliser. The former Atletico Madrid superstar didn’t provide much penetration but impressed with his overall game.
Jordi Alba: 7.5/10
Replaced Junior Firpo around the 68th minute and showed what Barcelona were missing on the left flank. The Spaniard notably made a darting run in behind the defence to find de Jong for the winner.
Ousmane Dembele: 6.5/10
Ousmane Dembele added more pace and energy to the Barcelona attack after replacing Trincao midway through the second half. Wasn’t involved in any of the goals, though.
Pedri offered the added industry in the final third after replacing Puig in the 68th minute. The youngster is certainly growing into a star performer for Barcelona.
Martin Brathwaite: N/A
A late replacement for the tiring Griezmann. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.