Barcelona‘s only pre-season game at the Camp Nou ended in a 2-1 win over Arsenal, with substitute Luis Suarez scoring the winner in the death in a closely fought game.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring in the first half and an own-goal from Ainsley Maitland-Niles restored parity in the second half.
This was arguably Barcelona’s best performance in their pre-season. We take a look at how each player performed in their first game at Camp Nou this season.
Neto – Froze like a deer in front of headlights the only time he was called into action. Ccould have positioned himself better to prevent Aubameyang from scoring. 5
Nelson Semedo – Best player from Barcelona’s back-line, solid in defence and provided width. 8
Gerard Pique – Should have done better to intercept Ozil’s pass to Aubameyang that led to Arsenal’s goal. 5
Samuel Umtiti – Caught out of possession a couple of times but had several moments of good, clean display. 6
Jordi Alba – Couple of good deliveries but a sub-par game in defence to his high standards, left huge amounts of space on the left at times. 5
Ivan Rakitic – Did a great job in distributing the ball across the width of the pitch, produced a couple of great defence-splitting balls. 7
Frenkie de Jong – Maintained tempo in midfield, did what was required from him; nothing more, nothing less. 7
Riqui Puig – Arguably Barcelona’s best player. Ran the show in midfield, created a couple of good chances and was a treat to the eyes. 9
Carles Perez – Failed to match the intensity that he showed in the other pre-season games, linked up well with the midfielders nonetheless. 6
Antoine Griezmann – Failed to play at the level he did in the other games, hesitated to take a shot at times and lacked intensity. 6
Ousmane Dembele – Another frustrating display from the youngster, gave the ball away frequently and displayed questionable decision-making. 5
Luis Suarez – Persistence bore fruit, scored an acrobatic goal to seal the Gamper Trophy for Barcelona. 8
Carles Alena – Further proof that Barcelona’s midfield is secure for some time now, confident passing at the face of a high press. 7
Moussa Wague – Justified his promotion with a good game at right-back filled with good deliveries in attack and strong tackles in defence. 7
Reports in Spain have claimed a €25 million transfer has been struck and the Dominican is reportedly set to sign a five-year contract.
And speaking to Catalunya Radio (h/t Mundo Deportivo) Junior’s former boss Quique Setien delivered a glowing report of Barca’s imminent signing.
“Barca have made a good deal. It’s a boy with enormous potential, youth, desire, excitement and quality. He’s worth the gamble,” he said.
“He will make progress at Barca because he has the desire and potential for growth.
“He has some qualities to polish, and good things that will come in handy. In the last year and a half he’s been progressing and improving concepts.
“Jordi Alba is one of the best left-backs in the world. The competition from Junior will do him well, and Junior doesn’t have Alba’s experience.
“In a few occasions we did use him as a center-back, but he is more comfortable and has a more daring disposition as a left-back. We missed him when he was injured. I hope he succeeds. I’ll be happy for him.”
Barca continue to be linked with a move for their former star as Neymar’s fallout with Paris Saint-Germain intensifies.
Edmilson, who has played in both Ligue 1 and La Liga with Lyon and the Blaugrana, is adamant his compatriot can take over Messi’s status as the undisputed star once the Argentine retires.
However, a better mentality will be required to take his game to the level of Messi’s.
“Barca will be thinking about Messi’s retirement. He still has a few years left in him, but in three, four or five years, I think Neymar could very well take the place of Messi,” he told Goal in an exclusive interview.
“Neymar is a great player, but he has to have a good mindset to play his football.
“He has had two average seasons combined with injuries and did not have a great World Cup.
“PSG did win the league but ultimately these are not Neymar’s best years.”
Should Neymar return to the Camp Nou, he’ll be heading back into an environment much different to the one he left to become the world’s most expensive player.
Antoine Griezmann adds to Ernesto Valverde’s attacking options and Edmilson says Neymar must focus his game if he is to become the team’s focal point.
He added: “Barca have a host of great players and they will have to decide who plays if they want to bring him back. They have brought in Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele is still there and so is Philippe Coutinho.
“There are many attacking players in the middle as well such as Ivan Rakitic, Arthur and Sergio Busquets.
“He started well at PSG, he was fine. He was well surrounded with his dad. But after that, I do not know what happened…
“I think Neymar has a place everywhere. The fans are happy when he his playing well and scoring goals but the truth is that he is not always there.
“He remains a great player and we will need to see where he feels is best to continue to flourish because today Ney has lost a little bit of edge since Barca.”