Barcelona player ratings vs Atletico Madrid
Leo Messi and Riqui Puig were the standout performers as Luis Suárez disappeared and Antoine Griezmann's Camp Nou nightmare continued.
Barcelona supporters had little to cheer after Quique Setién’s side were held to a 2-2 draw by Atlético Madrid at Camp Nou. The emergence of Riqui Puig as a genuine midfield maestro and the eternal brilliance of Leo Messi were about all culés will take away from a game that aided Real Madrid’s bid for the title.
Messi magic, Puig potential
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen: The Barça keeper stopped Diego Costa’s penalty but couldn’t prevent Saúl from levelling the affair after VAR intervened. The German almost kept Saúl’s second spot kick out but it trickled in after he had got a glove to it by guessing the Atleti midfielder would go the same way.
Nelson Semedo: One of the main protagonists of the evening. His incursions on the flank were one of Barça’s main attacking outlets but he will be remembered more for the second penalty, when he appeared to clip Yannick Carrasco. Still, Semedo was one of few to emerge in credit and is in a rich vein of form.
Gerard Piqué: Struggled to contain Carrasco and wasn’t particularly accurate in his anticipation. The defender thought he had won a penalty in an aerial challenge at 2-2 but VAR didn’t agree, which will add fuel the flames of that particular debate.
Clément Lenglet: The Frenchman had a decent game and kept Atlético’s current danger man, Marcos Llorente, safely under wraps. Across the board, Lenglet was the more assured of the Barça central defensive partnership.
Jordi Alba: Not his best showing this season as he struggled to create much going forward other than a pair of dangerous crosses and only once linked up with his favoured partner Leo Messi to any effect. Was on the back foot for much of the game with Diego Simeone targeting Barça’s left side.
Sergio Busquets: A stellar performance from the old campaigner, who was at the heart of all of Barça’s moves and had more possession than any other players on the pitch. Both at the base of the midfield and at the tip, his passing was immaculate and his defensive work impeccable.
Ivan Rakitic: The Croatian failed to impose himself on the game and was too often either in a bad position to involve himself in attack or caught out when Atlético surged forward. Other than a recovery on the edge of the area that led to a shot and a fine save from Oblak, he was not at the level he has been since the Liga restart and was the first player to be hooked by Setién.
Arturo Vidal: Vidal was a battering ram coming into the area from the second line of attack to latch onto crosses and almost got his reward when he linked well with Semedo from a quick free kick. His energy and commitment are always vital to Barça but his excesses sometimes cost the side, as was the case with the first penalty awarded to Atlético for a blatant trip on Carrasco.
Riqui Puig: The La Masia graduate was the best of Barça’s bunch and showed he has the ability to become a truly world class player. He rarely mislaid a pass, found balls through the lines and kept Barça ticking over in midfield. His connection with Messi was magnificent and he was happy to roll up his sleeves in defence as well. In this form, it will be unjustifiable to leave him out of the starting XI.
Leo Messi: The Argentinean scored his 700th career goal from the spot with a delicate chip that few players would have attempted at such a sensitive juncture in the game. He was the most likely to break down the Oblak wall but either the keeper himself or the vagaries of fortune denied Messi on the night. He provided the “assist” for Costa’s own goal after almost sneaking a free kick in at the near post and nearly beat the Atleti stopper with a glorious curled effort.
Luis Suárez: Terrible. It’s as simple as it is harsh for a player of Suárez’s calibre after he saved Barcelona against Celta but on Tuesday it was easy to forget he was even on the pitch. Slow, lacking dynamism, not seeking out teammates or opening in the Atleti back line, it was a woeful performance from the Uruguayan and one that should lead Setién to consider his options.
Griezmann in limbo
Sergi Roberto: Slotted into midfield in place of Rakitic and added an extra layer of threat that the Croatian had failed to provide.
Ansu Fati: The teenager tried to influence the game in a 10-minute cameo and is a constant threat who should be handed more game time. The reputations and Price tags of other players have their merits, but performance is the only thing that should count.
Antoine Griezmann: Remains a shadow of what he was but at least showed willingness when he recovered a ball he had lost himself. A four-minute cameo, the second time in two games he has been benched and for an outlay of €120 million. You can do the maths.
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