Memphis Depay scored the only goal of the game as Barcelona started the new era under Xavi Hernandez with a 1-0 win over Espanyol in La Liga on Saturday night.

Barcelona dominated the proceedings over their local rivals, Espanyol, in front of a packed Camp Nou right from the kickoff. Memphis Depay looked lively in the final third and had a couple of shots stopped by veteran goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who was also at hand to deny Sergio Busquets, while debutant Ilias Akhomach was guilty of wasting a great chance after being set up by Jordi Alba, with the scoreline remaining 0-0 at half-time.

Soon after the restart, though, the Blaugrana were awarded a penalty as Gavi slipped Depay through on goal with a lovely pass, but the Dutchman was brought down by David Lopez. The 27-year-old stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and made no mistake to put his team in front. The Catalans looked to add to their tally with substitute Abde Ezzalzouli asking some questions of the visitors’ defence but were unable to.

At the other end, Raul de Tomas almost ended up spoiling Barcelona’s party, as he came close to equalising twice, striking the woodwork on both occasions, while Landry Dimata was also guilty of spurning a huge chance for Espanyol. In the end, Xavi’s team held on for a narrow victory, bringing an end to their four-game winless run in La Liga.

The result sees the Blaugrana move up to sixth place in the standings, but they are still eight points shy of leaders Real Sociedad. Here is how we rated the performances of the Barcelona stars on Xavi’s managerial debut.

Barcelona Player Ratings

Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10

The German international did not have a lot to do on the night but was alert when needed to be. He made a couple of decent saves on either side of half-time to secure a clean sheet and help Barcelona to a victory.

Oscar Mingueza: 4/10

The makeshift right-back struggled up against the dangerous Raul de Tomas all through the night and was caught of position constantly, leading to two chances for the Spanish international striker – one each in each half. On the evidence of this, it is understandable why Barcelona went out to re-sign Dani Alves.

Gerard Pique: 6/10

The veteran centre-back had his task cut out, especially with Mingueza struggling beside him. Kept things in check for the most part, but there were occasions when he struggled to keep up with the visitors, especially in the later stages when they turned on the heat.

Eric Garcia: 7/10

Starting in the backline, having recovered from the injury he picked up against Celta Vigo, Garcia enjoyed a solid outing versus Espanyol. Read the game well and took up good positions to cut out any threats while also facilitating the buildup play from the back with his progressive passes.

Jordi Alba: 7/10

Full of attacking intent on the left-hand side, the Spaniard pushed forward at every possible occasion and hit in dangerous crosses into the box one after the other. Reliable defensively as well, apart from the one instance late on when de Tomas had a chance to level things up.

Frenkie de Jong: 6.5/10

He showed a bit more attacking intent than usual and looked to make ghosting runs whenever an opportunity presented itself. De Jong Was progressive with his passes and looked to drive the team forward when on the ball. Found the back of the net in the second half but was pulled for offside.

Sergio Busquets: 7/10

A fine display from the Barcelona captain, who oozed quality and composure in the middle of the park. He almost opened the scoring in the first half with a beautiful curling effort. Kept things ticking along nicely and then created a chance for Abde with a lovely pass in the second half. Must look to build on this performance.

Nico Gonzalez: 7/10

The 19-year-old looked up for the challenge from the kickoff as he pressed the visitors with intent and looked to drive the team forward when on the ball. Helped engineer a few openings and even had a sight at goal. Promising signs for the Catalan giants.

Ilias Akhomach: 6/10

Making his senior debut, the Barcelona B winger showed a lot of promise with his movement and running. However, he was guilty of spurning a great chance to score in the first half. There were instances when he linked up well with those around him, although the end product was missing — taken off at half-time.

Memphis Depay: 8/10

The Player to Watch in our match preview, Depay looked the most likely to make things happen in the attacking third for Barcelona. Drew a couple of saves from Diego Lopez in the first half before winning the penalty and converting it after the break. Led the line with good energy on the night and emerged as the match-winner.

Gavi: 8/10

The 17-year-old was once again top-notch for Barcelona. Playing on the wing, rather than his natural position in midfield, Gavi was a thorn in the side for Espanyol as he carved out openings for his teammates while also helping out defensively. He played a beautiful pass to send Depay through on goal, leading to the penalty. He was taken off to a rousing ovation from the Camp Nou faithful.

SUBSTITUTES

Abde Ezzalzouli: 7/10

On for Akhomach at half-time, the 19-year-old winger caused many problems to the Espanyol defence with his running. He came close to scoring on a couple of occasions.

Philippe Coutinho: 5/10

Replaced Gavi in the 70th minute. Did not make much of an impact.

Riqui Puig: N/A 

He came on for Busquets with a little over ten minutes left. Played some good-looking passes.

Yusuf Demir: N/A

Late substitute for Nico.

Ronald Araujo: N/A

On for Mingueza in the dying embers.

Leave A Comment...

*