No need to kill Ousmane Dembele if there is a remedy, says Andres Iniesta

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After spending his first few months at Japanese side Vissel Kobe, Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta returned to the city last week.

During his short visit, the midfielder caught up with the players and visited the training facility.

The World Cup winner also spoke about the highly talented, yet often unpunctual star Ousmane Dembele.

The Frenchman reportedly arrived late to training on Sunday after a stunning performance against Espanyol on Saturday.

Iniesta believes that this is something to be concerned about and the club must take remedial actions.

However, he maintained that Dembele is an asset and must be nurtured instead of being completely shunned out.

“It is difficult to assess the situation [with Dembele] because I am no longer here,” Iniesta said.

“There has to be rules and responsibilities and, if not respected, the club and the squad should remedy the situation.

“He is a very important player for Barcelona.

“We must solve the errors and not kill them; kill them when there’s no cure.

“I do not think that the solution is hopeless; my advice is that this will come in time.”

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Barcelona player ratings as Ousmane Dembele earns an 8 and Arthur gets a 6

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Ousmane Dembele put on another stellar show as Barcelona hung on for a 1-1 draw against Tottenham in the Champions League.

With Barca already assured of top spot in the group, Ernesto Valverde fielded an under-strength side with several academy products getting a chance to prove themselves.

Here’s a look at how they fared.

STARTING XI

Jasper Cillessen 8 – The biggest reason Barcelona’s unbeaten home record in the Champions League stayed in tact, as Cillessen produced a couple of excellent saves.

Nelson Semedo 5 – Tottenham found a lot of joy down his flank, attacking that side relentlessly until the pressure finally told. Barcelona’s right-back was their weakest link.

Clement Lenglet 7 – Produced a couple of crucial interventions at the back, frustrating Tottenham with his excellent defending.

Thomas Vermaelen 5 – Couldn’t handle the pace of Tottenham’s attack, with Barcelona’s high line often caught out because of Vermaelen’s lack thereof.

Juan Miranda 6 – The better of Barcelona’s two full-backs, though he struggled at times with Moussa Sissoko’s robustness. Definitely won the duel of young full-backs against Kyle Walker-Peters.

Arthur 6 – Another solid display in midfield from the Brazilian, whose passing ability continues to astound.

Carles Alena 7 – Barcelona’s best midfielder on the night – not a bad thing to say about a player on his Champions League debut.

Ivan Rakitic 6 – Looked like he was trying too hard to reproduce his heroics from Barcelona’s earlier win against Spurs this season, looking for the spectacular rather than keeping things simple.

Ousmane Dembele 8 – Another excellent display from the young Frenchman. Scored a brilliant goal and had Tottenham’s defence on toast throughout, though he faded in the second half.

Munir 5 – Given the opportunity to make his case for more minutes, Munir had little impact for Barcelona.

Philippe Coutinho 8 – A brilliant display from Coutinho, who threatened to make something happen every time he touched the ball. Unlucky not to score – he hit the post twice.

SUBSTITUTES

Sergio Busquets 6 – Brought on to help Barca keep control of the game, but Tottenham were actually more dominant after he replaced Rakitic in midfield.

Lionel Messi 6 – Lionel Messi is human. Tottenham may have despaired after seeing him come off the bench, but the Barca talisman barely had an impact after coming on.

Denis Suarez 6 – Came on with 15 minutes left, and did little of note during his cameo.

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Ousmane Dembele's showing perfect timing on the pitch for Barcelona

Chris Bailey 12/12/2018
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Ousmane Dembele may be having trouble setting his alarm clock for training but he proved an early riser at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

It’s certainly easier for Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde to stomach his habitual lateness when he’s firing on the pitch – and against Tottenham, in a heavily rotated line-up, the 21-year-old stepped up as the Blaugrana’s main gunner in the absence of substitute Lionel Messi.

Below, we took a closer look at what was largely another impressive performance in the 1-1 draw.

STATISTICS

Shots – 2

On target – 1

Passes – 32

Key passes – 2

Crosses – 2

Pass accuracy – 75%

Dribbles – 3

Times fouled – 3

30-SECOND REPORT

This game was an opportunity for Dembele and friends to inject life in what was for all intents and purposes a dead rubber for already qualified Barcelona.

The Frenchman did exactly that with just seven minutes gone, catching the inexperienced Kyle Walker-Peters in a compromising position with most of Spurs’ players camped around Barca’s box.

Within a blink of an eye there was green grass in fron tof Walker-Peters, who sealed his fate with a slight stumble, before the on-rushing Dembele came to a dead stop and let the lunging Harry Winks fly right past him. One languid sweep of his left boot later and the ball was beyond Hugo Lloris.

Though that was his telling contribution it certainly wasn’t his only one. Little flicks, dummy runs, intelligently finding his team-mates. The €105m man is maturing – when he steps across the white line, anyway.

GOT RIGHT

INTELLIGENCE – As breathless as his goal was, it didn’t tell us something we didn’t already know about Dembele. He is frightening in open space and woe betide any team that lets him have it.

It is his work in close quarters against an organised defence that can leave a lot to be desired. This time there was a lot to be liked.

Though Barca were hardly funnelling him the ball, with Philippe Coutinho the trusted playmaker on the other wing, but Dembele used more than just his pace to extricate himself from trouble. In one instance he cunningly shielded the ball and won a free-kick in a dangerous position off Moussa Sissoko.

In another he burst down the sideline and instead of trying to thread the needle to the heavily marked Munir, pulled it back at a sharper angle some 20 yards to a wide open Coutinho.

His stat line now reads four goals and four assists in the last eight games, consistency that marks him as a man increasingly for all occasions.

GOT WRONG

LACKADAISICAL – Whether it’s over-confidence or lack of care, Dembele is still prone to being caught off guard while in possession.

In the first half, facing goal and on the outskirts of Barca’s defensive third, the World Cup winner dawdled on the ball and was caught out by Sissoko, leading to a decent chance for Son Heung-min.

To give up possession in such a position is simply anathema at the Nou Camp and Dembele must learn to take extra care in positions where doing the simple thing is Barca’s modus operandi.

VERDICT

Another encouraging display on the road to justifying why Barca felt compelled to spend half-a-Neymar’s worth on the Brazilian’s replacement.

Coutinho, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi remain the trident that Valverde will turn to in the very biggest games, yet the longer this run of form continues, Dembele should be considered an interchangeable piece rather than a potential liability. Now if only he can fix that alarm clock …

RATING: 8/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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