Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi were on target as Barcelona maintained their grip on top spot in La Liga with a 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo.
It was a game of two halves with Barca excellent in the opening period but far less fluent after the break, and Celta were never entirely out of the game but just lacked a cutting edge.
So which players shone, and who struggled at the Camp Nou?
Ter Stegen 7. Made a decent low stop from Gomez and a remarkable goalline smother after a scrambled corner.
Semedo 7. Bright and progressive down the right flank, especially when he nearly teed up Messi with a great run and cross.
Pique 8. Led the defensive line very well, showing sharp anticipation and always acting decisively to keep Celta contained.
Lenglet 7. Generally coped well with the physical threat of Gomez but was once barged aside to concede a chance.
Alba 8. Almost unstoppable in the first half, including key passes for the first two goals, and carried out his defensive work well.
Vidal 6. Linked well with Semedo and worked hard off the ball, but sometimes wayward distribution and was taken off.
Busquets 6. Smooth passing and sharp reading of the game in the opening period, but he tired and was eventually replaced.
Rakitic 6. Influential and active in the first half, but lost his way after the break and couldn’t prevent Celta’s increased authority.
Messi 7. Had a shot saved for Dembele to net the opener and finished the second himself. Not his best game but still decisive.
Suarez 6. Missed a sitter after an hour, dragging his shot wide, and cut a frustrated figure but never stopped working.
Dembele 7. Slashed home the opener after Messi’s shot was saved and very good before the break, but faded and was replaced.
Arthur 6. Entered the fray for Vidal after an hour but came on at a difficult time and couldn’t change the game’s pattern.
Coutinho 5. Came on for Dembele for the final 25 minutes to provide more control in midfield, but struggled to make an impact.
Alena N/A. Replaced Busquets late on and had insufficient time to make a significant contribution.
CELTA VIGO 4-4-2
Blanco 5. Probably should have done better with the first goal and looked hesitant throughout. Far from convincing.
Mallo 5. Visiting skipper struggled against Dembele and Alba’s pace, and blazed wide one of his team’s best openings.
Araujo 7. Made a goalline clearance to deny Alba and stuck to his task doggedly throughout, looking the strongest of Celta’s defence.
Costas 6. Got dragged horribly out of position for Messi’s first goal, but did well to contain Suarez on the whole.
Mazan 5. A rare outing for the Slovakian left-back, and there might not be many more after he struggled to offer much.
Mendez 6. Comfortably Celta’s best player on the ball, but did too little defensively. Curled a 20-yard shot narrowly wide.
Okay 4. Occasionally ponderous in possession and often overrun in midfield, it was no surprise when he was replaced at half-time.
Jozabed 6. Tidy on the ball but was too easily overrun in the opening period and didn’t offer enough penetration.
Boufal 5. Made a dangerous early run and shot, but was more style than substance on the left wing and was eventually replaced.
Aspas 5. Floated in and out of the game before being forced off through injury early in the second half. Frustrating evening.
Gomez 6. Came close with a low strike midway through the first half but struggled to make a consistent impact up front.
Lobotka 6. Replaced Okay in midfield at half-time, and offered more dynamism and tenacity in front of the back four.
Beltran 6. Came on for Aspas to play in a more advanced position than usual. Tried to link midfield and attack with little success.
Sisto 6. Added some zest and directness to Celta’s attack for the last 15 minutes, but couldn’t deliver final product.
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Ernesto Valverde believes new signing Jeison Murillo can play a key role in Barcelona’s 2018/19 season.
The Spanish giants have agreed a deal to take the Colombia international on loan, with an option to purchase the centre-back in the summer.
Ahead of the Blaugrana’s clash against Celta Vigo in La Liga, head coach Valverde spoke about the Catalan club’s latest signing.
The Spaniard maintained he wanted a centre-back who has experience in the league and won’t take long to fit in. Valverde further praised the qualities of the Columbian and believes that he can play a key role in the long season ahead.
“We are in a delicate moment with our centre-backs and, so far, we have managed it well, but we don’t know how it will go going forward,” Valverde explained in a press conference on Friday.
“We took into account the situation of the club and we wanted someone on loan who could play immediately and who knew the league well.
“Murillo met those requirements and he can help us in the short term so the club did a good job with his signing.
“Signings at this club need to be familiar with us as we’re continuing our fight for two major competitions soon and we couldn’t have brought along players who need to adapt.
“Murillo is a good player who can help us and be important for us so we will push forward and hope for the best.”
Arturo Vidal insists his angry emoji Instagram story from earlier in the season is now a thing of the past.
The Chilean midfielder caused quite a storm after he left an angry emoji on an Instagram story after being left out of the Barcelona squad that took on Tottenham at Wembley in the Champions League.
In an interview with RAC1, the Chilean expressed his discontent on a lack of playing time at that moment, but brushed it off, saying that it is all in the past.
“There was a little bit of annoyance, but it’s in the past,” he said.
“A player always wants to play and to be important. You come here to contribute, not to cause problems in such an important team.
“It was a little bit of a heated thing, but it’s in the past. I’m only thinking about working, doing things well and winning titles.
“I don’t feel like a starter, but this is something that is earned training session to training session and whenever you are called upon to play.”