Luis Suarez and Arthur both 8 out of 10 as Barcelona dont miss a beat without Lionel Messi
Barcelona made light work of Inter Milan at Camp Nou on Wednesday without injured Lionel Messi, with Rafinha and Jordi Alba on target in a 2-0 win.
Rafinha, who took Messi’s place in the side, opened the scoring in the first half. The Brazilian midfielder produced a smart finish from close range to culminate a move which he had started.
Barca were rarely troubled by the Italians on the night and Alba put the seal on a win which moves the Catalans three points clear at the top of tChampions League Group B.
It’s now back-to-back wins for Barca, just in time for Sunday’s visit from Real Madrid. On an individual level, the performances of Luis Suarez and Arthur really stood out. Both players shone in the absence of Messi, who won’t be back in time the Clasico this weekend.
Questions will be asked about forwards Ousmane Dembele and Malcom, who were both left out despite the absence of Messi. Neither of the two even got up from the bench to warm up. Barca risk wasting over €150 million if Ernesto Valverde can’t find a way to fit them into his team.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Valverde’s team selection was conservative, leaving out Dembele and Malcom, which may draw criticism from some. However, he got it spot on, with Barca completely dominating the game. There was a lack of pace at times but there was no lack of control.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 — Didn’t have a lot to do but produced a brilliant reaction save in the second half to keep out a Matteo Politano cross which was creeping in.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 — Returned to the side at right-back following a recent injury before finishing the game in midfield.
DF Gerard Pique, 7 — Made a vital block on Mauro Icardi in the first half and produced another decent performance overall. Looks like he’s put a run of awkward form behind him.
DF Clement Lenglet, 7 — Not having much luck at Barcelona so far. This time he was unfortunate in front of goal, with chances coming his way but nothing quite falling for him. That said, he’s starting to turn in some good displays in defence.
DF Jordi Alba, 7 — Joked before the game that he would be one of the players most affected by Messi’s absence, given their relationship on the pitch. That certainly looked true at times but the left-back put the finishing touch to a fine passing move to seal the win — and still found time to send a sensational pass through to Suarez, who could have done better.
MF Sergio Busquets, 7 — The brain of this Barca team and the captain in Messi’s absence. Made a couple of key interceptions and was the base for the team’s attacks on his 100th European appearance for the club.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 — Looked more comfortable without having to worry about helping the right-back. Got on the ball and was daring with his passes. Set up Alba’s goal with a great through ball.
MF Arthur, 8 — Along with Suarez, the best player on the pitch until he was taken off with 12 minutes to go. A masterclass in keeping hold of the ball and playing it simple. It’s no wonder Camp Nou greeted his substitution with some whistles, before rising to their feet to applaud him.
MF Rafinha, 7 — Came into occupy Messi’s place in theory, although in reality Valverde switched to a more compact midfield, opting against trying to directly replace the irreplaceable. Scored the game’s opening goal with a move he started and finished against the club he spent six months on loan at earlier this year.
FW Philippe Coutinho, 6 — Hit the woodwork in the second half but more was expected of him in the absence of Messi. Will have another chance to step it up against Madrid at the weekend.
FW Luis Suarez, 8 — No player has taken on more responsibility since Messi got injured at the weekend. Was brilliant against Sevilla and again here against Inter. Was the focal point for most Barca attacks and also harried the visiting defence. Miranda will have nightmares.
DF Nelson Semedo, 6 — Barca’s first change, offered more pace on the right and freed Sergi Roberto to move back into midfield.
DF Arturo Vidal, N/R — Only came on for just over 10 minutes but was involved in Alba’s goal. Looked keen to impress.
DF Munir El Haddadi, N/R — Brought on for Coutinho for the final moments of the game.