After two largely underwhelming displays on the road after the international break, Barcelona were back at the Camp Nou tonight, ready to lock horns against Celta Vigo.
Xavi deployed a very experimental back-four on the night, using Marcos Alonso alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of the defence. Alejandro Balde started as the right-back, while Jordi Alba returned to his usual left-back role.
Right from kick-off, Barça looked much livelier, ready to make amends at home.
Pedri opened the scoring with an easy tap-in, courtesy of Unai Nunez’s missed clearance. And while the score was 1-0 at the end of the first 45, the match was not without controversy.
The Catalans were denied a clear penalty, yet again, as Raphinha was brought down in the box by Javi Galan.
The second half was almost completely against Barcelona’s run of flow, and the hosts were lucky to come away with the three points tonight. Not an encouraging performance ahead of a vital UCL clash, but three points nonetheless.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 9
Did not have an awful lot to do in the first half but was quite easily the best player on the pitch at the end of the game.
Alejandro Balde: 6.5
Balde looks comfortable inverting in a completely foreign role, and brings his electric dynamism to it each time. Combined well with Pedri and Raphinha.
Gerard Pique: 7
Covered his, and Alonso’s tracks brilliantly defensively, constantly shuffling to the left. Got sold by Jorgen Larsen on one occasion, but luckily the goal was ruled offside.
Marcos Alonso: 6.5
Did not look very comfortable whenever Celta attacked through that right side, unable to track players running behind him. Did well to scramble a potentially goal-saving block, though.
Jordi Alba: 8
Alba is a shot-creating machine, playing perfectly-weighted lay-offs. He was brilliantly offensively, crashing the box whenever possible, and also creating three chances.
A much better showing from Gavi after two consecutive subpar displays. Created the goal, too, albeit with some help from Celta. Won every loose ball as Barcelona cried for help in the second 45, including creating an attack for Dembele, who fluffed the chance.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5
Started well, but looked shaky as the game went on. Made a clutch block to deny Celta in the second half.
Heartbeat of the team, it is impossible to imagine Barcelona without Pedri. Not only is he an absolute treat to the eyes, but he is also incredibly effective with the ball, every single time. Not to mention, he scored today’s winner.
Raphinha was at the centre of each attack today, especially in the first half. His impact diminished in the second half, though. In his defence, he did win a clear penalty, but it was not to be.
Robert Lewandowski: 5
Lewandowski looked largely toothless today, unable to penetrate Celta’s defence quite as he would have liked.
Ferran Torres: 6
Torres looked much more vibrant today, trying to create chances for himself and the team. Was an inch away from getting on the scoresheet, but ended up kicking grass.
Ansu Fati: 6.5
Added some electricity to the attack, replacing Torres. Combined well with Alba, but more importantly, looked much more daring physically.
Frenkie de Jong: 6
Made a couple of decent line-breaking runs, but without and product.
Ousmane Dembele: 5
Not much to take away from this performance by Dembele, did not get the ball enough to make a difference. Had once chance to set up one of Lewandowski or Gavi in injury time, but did not make much of it.
Sergi Roberto: N/A
Came on too late to warrant a rating.
Eric Garcia: 8
Came on with ten minutes to spare, and made multiple game-saving interventions, including a heroic block in the 94th minute.