Lionel Messi spills his magic once again as FC Barcelona secure a convincing 5-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Barcelona continued to pile the pressure on arch-rivals Real Madrid and league leaders Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga table thanks to a convincing 5-1 win over Deportivo Alaves at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

It was always going to be a tricky encounter for the home side, who unsurprisingly fielded a toned down squad in light of the upcoming UEFA Champions League match-up against Paris Saint-Germain. As such key players like Ousmane Dembele, Sergino Dest, Miralem Pjanic, Jordi Alba and Pedri all started on the bench.

Yet, the Catalans dominated the game after a relatively slow start to the proceedings where Alaves looked determined to keep hold of their clean sheet. It was Francisco Trincao who eventually broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark, before Lionel Messi doubled Barca’s advantage just before half-time.

Barcelona picked up from where they had left off in the second half as they continued to pose problems for the Alaves defence. However, they defended welll this time and even pulled one back thanks to Luis Rioja. Unfortunately, they couldn’t continue as Trincao secured his brace in the 74th minute, and moments later, Messi found the back of the net once again, effectively sealing all three points for his team.

Junior Firpo added further gloss to the scoreline with an 80th-minute goal, and here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at how the Barcelona players performed in their important league win over Alaves this weekend.

Marc Andre ter-Stegen: 6/10

Marc Andre ter-Stegen had to make just one notable save in a game that saw Deportivo Alaves amass only two shots on goal. He could’ve done anything much to save Rioja’s effort though but did well in terms of ball distribution from the back. Will be disappointed to have missed out on the clean sheet.

Oscar Mingueza: 7/10

Oscar Mingueza was deployed in a pendulating role that saw him interchange between a wingback and a right-sided centre-back. The youngster was mostly solid during defensive phases, and unlike in recent games, he made quite an impact going forward, with his cross leading to the opening goal.

Frenkie de Jong: 7/10

It was bizarre to see Frenkie de Jong operate at central defence, but the rather risky move by Ronald Koeman played out just fine. The Dutchman looked calm in possession, playing a key role in his team’s build-up from the back. Relocated into a more familiar defensive midfield role in the second half.

Clement Lenglet: 6.5/10

With Ronald Araujo and Gerard Pique out injured and Umtiti absent from the starting eleven, Clement Lenglet did well to step up. He looked convincing in his tackles, although the centre-back did have his fair share of nervy moments. Koeman is definitely sweating on the fitness of Araujo heading into the PSG game in midweek.

Junior Firpo: 8/10

Starting ahead of Jordi Alba at left-back, Junior Firpo enjoyed one of his better performances for FC Barcelona. He offered a lot of offensive support from the far side, linking up well with teammates in the final third. He was rewarded with a late goal that should considerably lift his confidence during the second half of the campaign.

Ilaix Moriba: 6/10

Ilaix Moriba was handed a start in light of the upcoming clash against PSG which forced Koeman to bench Pjanic and Pedri. The academy graduate, however, had a rather disappointing game despite providing the pass that led to the opener from Trincao. He notably provided a sloppy backpass that was intercepted and led to the second half goal from Alaves. Taken off shortly after.

Sergio Busquets: 7.5/10

Sergio Busquets played quite well in the holding midfield role, orchestrating the build-up while threading some truly delightful balls over the top. One of his passes even led to a goal from Messi, but it was disallowed by VAR due to Antoine Griezmann being offside. The midfielder was taken off at half-time for obvious reasons.

Riqui Puig: 7.5/10

Much like Moriba, Riqui Puig was given a rare opportunity to prove himself, at the expense of Pedri. The young midfielder fared well, offering incisive movements around the central areas of the park. His link-up play with his teammates was also impressive, with the midfielder even ending up featuring in the entirety of the ninety minutes.

Francisco Trincao: 9/10

Koeman’s decision to rest Ousmane Dembele handed an excellent opportunity for Trincao and the young attacker embraced it with open arms – scoring a brace and playing a key role overall in Barcelona’s sheer dominance over Alaves. The Portuguese starlet is clearly improving, after initially making a slow start to his Barcelona career.

Lionel Messi: 10/10

Lionel Messi was by far the best player on the pitch, thanks to one of his best performances in La Liga this season. Indeed, the Argentine was a menace for the opposition defence, with his movements, link-up play and creativity. He notably played a key role in the build-up to Barcelona’s third and fifth goal while scoring two himself.

Both his goals originated from brilliant efforts outside the box, leaving Pacheco completely clueless. It will be interesting to see whether Messi can replicate this performance in the midweek fixture against PSG.

Antoine Griezmann: 6.5/10

Antoine Griezmann fared well on the left side of the pitch, especially in a game where he could have favoured a rest. The Frenchman, however, wasn’t as impressive as Messi or Trincao going forward. He was subbed off during the late stages of the game.

Substitutes

Samuel Umtiti: 6/10

Samuel Umtiti was finally introduced at the start of the second half when he replaced Busquets. The Frenchman slotted back to central defence alongside Lenglet but may have done a bit better in his approach in defending Rioja’s goal.

Pedri: 8/10

Pedri was brought in midway through the second half, and the youngster immediately made an impact. In fact, it was his pass that led to Messi almost scoring his second, but it was netted home by Trincao. A star in the making.

Miralem Pjanic: 6.5/10

Pjanic came on for de Jong during the final phase of the game. He offered more assurance in possession, helping Barcelona see out any last threat from Alaves.

Sergino Dest: 6/10

It was refreshing to see Sergino Dest back in action as he replaced Mingueza in the 72nd minute. It will be interesting to see whether he will start against PSG in midweek.

Ousmane Dembele: N/A

A late replacement for Griezmann. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Leave A Comment...

*