Player Ratings: FC Barcelona vs. RCD Espanyol

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 09: Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his team's third goal with his teammates during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Espanyol at Camp Nou on September 9, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

In the end Barcelona ended up dominating Espanyol in the Catalan Derby, but not after a a few early visits from lady luck. All four of the squad’s new summer signings took part in the match and all four showed glimmering glimpses of what Culés can expect in the coming months. Critics may argue the club is missing a player the caliber of Philippe Coutinho but currently the squad sits first in La Liga four points in front of Real Madrid.

Marc-André ter Stegen – 6.5

Made nice stops in either half and started the movement for the fifth goal with a long pass. His distribution cannot be argued against but his decision-making in the box leaves a little bit to be desired. Whether to come for the ball or not is the always the question.

Jordi Alba – 8.5

Looks like a player reborn under Ernesto Valverde and with the absence of Neymar. The left flank is his to dominate and dominate he did against Espanyol. He provided two assists to the second and third goals of Lionel Messi’s hat trick with overwhelming overlaps into the box. Messi playing the false nine and Luis Suárez starting on the left but always drifting inside allows Alba the full freedom he desires on the wing.

Samuel Umtiti – 8.0

Intercepts, blocks, tackles, headers, and strong running is this man’s game. What a signing the Frenchman has turned out to be. With his continued improvement the left side of the defense will not be a problem for the club for many years.

Gerard Piqué – 7.5

He was strong in the air all match and provided the steel the defense needed. Critiques continue to argue that he has dropped below Barcelona quality but he continues to show that is not the case. Hopefully his strong header goal will silence some critics. The future president’s form is key to this season’s results.

Nélson Semedo – 7.5

This man is a beast on the right side of the pitch. Up and down he strides stopping all that come to oppose him. Defense is his first concern but offense on the right is of no concern with his presence on the pitch. His partnership with Ousmane Dembélé will be a joy to watch this season.

Andrés Iniesta – 6.5

Wasn’t the night that will stand out on this man’s great CV. He was mostly anonymous on the night but did provide an outlet from Espanyol’s press. Age may be catching up with this magician but class is something that never goes away.

Sergio Busquets – 7.5

This man has divine class on the ball. If MAtS gets him the ball any press can be broken. It is worrying that he has no one on the squad that can back up his world class play. Injuries are the one thing that could derail the club’s momentum at this point.

Ivan Rakitić – 8.0

Another player who looks to be reborn under new management. With Semedo owning the right side, Ivan has the space to drift inside and be the central midfielder he is made to be. His through ball assist for Messi’s first goal was a diamond even if Messi was offside.

Gerard Deulofeu – 7.5

He is definitely the bargain buy of the season for the club. All he does is create space and drive into the box. He won numerous corners, created a number of chances, and overlapped with a vengeance. Hopefully he will get plenty of minutes on the pitch to keep improving.

Luis Suárez – 6.5

He was a step off all night. You can blame it on coming back too soon from injury or the FIFA virus but hopefully the great number Nine will not struggle with Messi playing a false nine. Even with all his struggles Luis still scored a great goal in the 90th for Barcelona’s fifth of the match.

Lionel Messi – 9.0

Hat trick for the maestro. All match he drove into the heart of Espanyol and ended up ripping it out with only blood left in his wake. This man is some kind of machine made to play football, but upon closer inspection it is his artistry that truly makes him special.

Substitutes

Ousmane Dembélé – 7.5

Brilliant assist to Luis to open this man’s account for FC Barcelona. The pressure of the world is on this man’s shoulders, but he responded with vigor. Will he get the start on Tuesday?

Paulinho – 6.0

Quiet eighteen minutes on the pitch for the Brazilian. Many will jump to say his first touch isn’t Barcelona quality, and he should have scored his one chance on goal, but time will be his friend and his worth remains to be seen.

André Gomes – 7.0

Who was this man who was subbed on for Andrés Iniesta in the 77th minute? He was barley recognizable to the player who played for the club last season. Driving runs, passes forward and longer than five yards, and an electricity about him were a grand sight to behold. His beautiful pass to Ousmane freed him to put Luis on goal.

 

The Club won the derby five to nil, has won it’s first three matches in league, and are looking like world beaters early in the season. Tuesday’s match against Juventus in Champions League play will be the true early season test for Barcelona. Can the club band together and show its true colors, Blaugrana. What do you think?

 

 

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  • Jordan Saf

    These are my takeaways from the game:

    1. Valverde: I think his strength is being a better tactician and more experienced la liga coach than most of his predecessors. If he can translate that into strategic and formation varieties, raise his game to the European stage and get the most out of the current squad, he could well be the man for now and the future.

    2. Improved players: you can definitely see it on Alba, Busquets and Rakitic. Even Gomez looked sharper, and I for one would be happy to give him some time if that means Valverde can get him his Valencia form back.

    3. Semedo: Alves is very hard to replace, but I don’t think there is many better in the market than Semedo. His confidence is what I like about him the most; you need that if you will cement a starting place in Barca, and his touch is exquisite. My only point on him is that he seems to shy away from attack. Yes defence should be his first priority but if he reads the game on the wing the way he does at the back then he can really add devastating effect, which is part of his job description.

    4. Deulofeu: I had “fans” on here go for my throat when I said he should be given a chance, and I am glad he is. He may not be as good as the classic front 3, but can you think of a better backup? Squad depth was our main downfall last season, and you need players of his quality available. If he provides nothing else, his readiness to take the game to the opponent alone is enough for me to keep him and give him more and more minutes. He’s a player that will not just go for the safe option.

    5. Dembele: way too soon to comment on his Barca game. I am hoping with time he will be even better than Neymar. At the very least, I respect him more than I do the Brazilian for his grounded more respectful and collegiate demeanour. Also, he is double-footed. But let’s wait and see. His assist to Suarez was pure, pure class.

    6. The pressing game: it is obvious Valverde is bringing back the focus onto ball recovery. It was one of the main elements of Guardiola’s era and I hope it is a fixture in this team not a wave.

    Side note: Benedito has so far got 2,920 no-confidence votes in 3 days and needs 13,650 more until October. At this rate we may well be getting a new board for Christmas.

    • Peter Kurg

      Agree about Gerard. He is a Barça player and he belongs at the club.

    • Kneowell Anyanwu

      3000 votes in 2 weeks, not 3 days, that’s quite a small number for me compared to what he needs. I wonder why he is alone on this, I wonder why he is not teaming up with laporta if they really want this to happen, i wonder why laporta on his part is not doing same? Yes I understand they are competitors for same spot but if they love the club as much as they claim they do I think they should at least put their differences aside to get these votes, afterwards they can go their separate ways and run separately. At this rate we gonna be stuck with this board, and if the team are able to continue to pull off good results in the league and ucl with new signings doing well and showing great promise, we might as well kiss those votes goodbye. Benedito needs to double up