FC Barcelona opens group play of the Champions League with a seven to nil mauling of Celtic F.C. Celtic never looked to be in the match as Barcelona scored early and often, with Lionel Messi starting things off with an impossible goal in the third minute. Marc-André ter Stegen stopped a penalty in the 24th minute that ended Celtic’s best scoring opportunity.
Marc-André ter Stegen – 7.0
Marc conceded a penalty and earned a yellow in 23rd minute, and then promptly stopped the attempt in the 24th. MAtS was never under too much pressure and looked very composed on the ball. Only facing three shots with two on target, he is unlikely to have an easier night in a blaugrana kit.
Jordi Alba – 8.0
Jordi linked well with Neymar and completed numerous overlapping runs. He consistently looked to fire in crosses into the box and play one-twos with the aforementioned Neymar. Alba didn’t have much to do on defense but when called upon was solid.
Samuel Umtiti – 8.0
The Frenchman did three things well in this match: made strong passes, was dominate in the air, and partnered Gerard Piqué to stop any Celtic counter attacks. You cannot ask more from a young defender learning his trade on the job.
Gerard Piqué – 8.0
He had a tidy match. Piqué was strong on the ball and made good decisions when needed. He made two nice sliding tackles that stopped Celtic’s advancements into Barcelona’s attacking third. By the end of the match, he looked to become a midfielder and later an additional center forward. He really wanted a goal too!
Sergi Roberto – 8.0
Wing back, midfielder, right back, out and out winger, Roberto was all these things and more on the night. Wherever Messi moves Sergi is there to cover or exploit. The one worrying sign is that Messi doesn’t look to feed him on the overlap. When Messi begins to trust him more, watch out European clubs.
André Gomes – 7.0
He is starting to look more comfortable for Barcelona. Gomes is becoming stronger in the air and made a few nice runs, but he lost the ball which forced Ivan Rakitić to concede a yellow. After Sergio Busquets was withdrawn, Gomes moved into the pivot. On the night André played all three midfield positions.
Sergio Busquets – 6.5
Along with Rakitic, Sergio was beaten for pace on the movement that led to Barcelona conceding a penalty. He wasn’t spectacular but wasn’t bad either. His performances in the past mean Barcelona fans ask only the best from him. He seems to have started the season very slowly and was withdrawn in the 61st minute.
Ivan Rakitić – 6.5
He made many runs into the box during the early stages of the match but went unfound each time. It was obvious he was becoming frustrated. In the 34th minute he fired a shot that was cleared off the line. In the 40th minute he gave up a professional foul which stopped a counter attack and in the process earned him a yellow. He was withdrawn at halftime for fear of receiving a second yellow.
Neymar – 9.5
He was the player of the match for Barcelona. He scored one delicious free kick and delivered four scrumptious assists. Neymar owned the left wing all night only pausing to cut inside. He has an unreal understanding with Messi including assisting his first two goals. Whether it be one-twos, crossing for volleys, or chipping the ball into the box Neymar put to rest his critics from the last match.
Luis Suárez – 8.5
He had a quiet first half but came alive in the second. Held up play and delivered a great ball for Messi’s hat trick. In the 75th minute he scored the goal of the match on chip from Neymar that he controlled first time on his chest with his back to goal followed by slaming the ball into the back of the net with his left foot. In the 88th minute chalked up a brace with an easy finish from a Messi cross. As always there was great work rate all match from the Uruguayan.
Lionel Messi – 9.5
The greatest ever scored three goals, had one assist, and won the free kick that led to Neymar’s goal. Those words so few don’t describe this man or his performance he had in this match. He controlled the tempo of the game and drifted into space with ease. Runs and dynamite passes with his left foot were the order of the day. We are fortunate to see this man in his prime.
Andrés Iniesta – 7.5
Don Andrés only scores beautiful goals. In the 59th minute he hit a thunderbolt from a Neymar cross that tore the net up. The through ball master notched up a hockey assist to Messi that created the 7th goal from Suarez. 45 minutes of watching him was not enough tonight.
Rafinha – 5.5
He still doesn’t look like the same player he was before the injury. His work rate was good and he didn’t misplace many passes, but he needs more minutes to be effective.
FC Barcelona starts their Champion League campaign strong as Neymar and Messi starred on the night which found Suarez also shining. Who were your favorites?