Antoine Griezmann made the difference while Ronald Araujo impressed as Barcelona eked out a narrow 1-0 win over Eibar on Saturday.
Eibar were the stronger of the two sides in the early exchanges, although Neto was hardly troubled in the opening quarter of the game, which passed by without a single big chance being created. The first worrisome moment came around the half-hour mark, when Kike Garcia forced Neto into a big save, but the score remained 0-0 heading into half-time, with Barcelona being listless.
Post the interval, it was more of the same, but Barcelona did carry a fair bit of threat after switching their formation. The deadlock was finally broken in the 81st minute, when Antoine Griezmann produced an acrobatic finish from close range. Eibar did push for an equaliser, but Barcelona held on to record the narrow win, which helps them secure third place. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ronald Koeman’s men.
With Marc-Andre ter Stegen injured, Neto made what is set to be his final outing for Barcelona. The Brazilian goalkeeper was tested a fair bit by a resolute Eibar side, although most of his stops were regulation saves. Bar one sloppy parrying effort, there really was not much to write home about his performance, although it was a clean sheet well-earned.
Ronald Araujo: 7/10
A much-improved display by Araujo, although there were one or two nervy moments up against Sergi Enrich. The young Uruguayan defender, though, had some solid numbers, winning 6 duels while making 2 clearances, blocks and interceptions each. Precise with the ball at his feet as well.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Frenkie de Jong essayed two roles in the game for Barcelona, sitting at the heart of the three-man central defensive unit in the opening 45 minutes before moving into midfield post the break. At the back, there were a few hairy moments, but de Jong conducted play smartly. Vastly improved after moving into midfield, which is when Barcelona started looking more dangerous.
Oscar Mingueza: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Mingueza. Produced a huge block to deny Sergi Enrich, but nearly gave a cheap goal away as well. Completed 4 clearances as well while retaining an impressive 96 percent passing rate (50/52 completed). However, he was subbed off at half-time for Samuel Umtiti.
Sergino Dest: 5/10
Back in the starting lineup, this was Dest’s opportunity to leave a mark on Ronald Koeman, but that is what he did not really manage to do. Under the cosh against the nippy Takashi Inui, the USMNT defender struggled defensively to a great extent. Going forward, he did not carry a lot of threat, although he did present himself as an outlet. Still has a lot to learn.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
A blow-hot-blow-cold display by Busquets, who was excellent at times in controlling the tempo of the game, but also gave the ball away cheaply on a few occasions. The veteran midfielder also played a fine key pass in the first half, but was also dribbled past on a number of instances. No harm done in the end, but this performance points towards the need for a succession plan.
Ilaix Moriba: 5/10
With Pedri rested, Ilaix Moriba made another start, but was sub-par this time around. Having said that, this performance can perhaps, be attributed to a lack of experience, which meant that while he completed 94 percent of his attempted passes, he could not make a telling difference while also struggling to provide cover to the Barcelona backline. Just a part of his learning curve.
Junior Firpo: 4/10
Provided an opportunity to make an impression, Junior Firpo had his work cut out against Bryan Gil, committing a plethora of fouls to bring down the Barcelona target instead of cutting him off with sound defending. Posed no threat whatsoever when charging forward and therefore, it was hardly surprising that he was taken off at half-time.
Francisco Trincao: 4/10
Handed a rare start by Koeman, this was Trincao’s chance to impress, but failed to make the most of his opportunity. The Portuguese winger hardly saw the ball during the first half, and although he only misplaced one pass in the opening 45 minutes, he did nothing to justify coming out of the half-time break with his place intact. Rightly taken off at the beak for Martin Braithwaite.
Antoine Griezmann: 7/10
25 – Only Lionel Messi 🇦🇷 (37) & Gerard Moreno 🇪🇸 (30) have been involved both more goals in all competitions than Antoine Griezmann 🇫🇷 (25, 15 goals & ten assists) in this calendar year. Coq@FCBarcelona #eibarbarca pic.twitter.com/72X7c0cJDi
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 22, 2021
A difficult evening for Griezmann, who struggled to make things happen in the absence of Lionel Messi. Nevertheless, as is usually the case with the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner, he never really stopped putting in the hard yards and was eventually rewarded for his grafting when he scored the winner with a brilliant acrobatic finish. A decent end to the campaign.
Ousmane Dembele: 6/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Dembele blew hot and cold on Saturday. At times, the French international was rendered to be on the periphery of the game, but did not shy away from taking on the Eibar defenders when afforded the chance to do so. On one such occasion, he ended up being the architect for Griezmann’s goal, sending in the cross that was deflected towards his compatriot.
Martin Braithwaite: 5/10
On for Trincao at half-time, Braithwaite did not see a lot of the ball, but did manage to complete each of his 10 attempted passes. The Danish striker, though, hardly posed a threat in the final third and did not muster a single shot on goal.
Jordi Alba: 5/10
Sent on in place of the struggling Junior Firpo at the break, Alba was an upgrade over the incumbent but was still well off his best. Failed to create a single chance and had a paltry passing rate of 76 percent while also being suspect at the back at times. A sub-par finish to the season.
Samuel Umtiti: 6/10
On for Mingueza at half-time, Umtiti was largely solid in the second half, winning a couple of duels while covering up well for Jordi Alba. Completed 92 percent of his attempted passes as well in a decent display.
Riqui Puig: 6/10
Introduced in place of the injured Ilaix Moriba, Puig was the catalyst in pushing Barcelona forward with a lot of precision. Looked to make things happen constantly and played a couple of key passes, all while boasting an impressive passing rate of 89 percent. It is a wonder how he did not get much of a look-in this season.
Miralem Pjanic: N/A
On for de Jong, Pjanic was handed a rare chance to make an impression and the Bosnian did well to recycle possession smartly, while also playing a key pass.