Paco Alcacer deadly in the box for Barcelona - Analysis as Spaniard deputises for rested Lionel Messi

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Barcelona ran away with Group D.

In this addition of In Focus, we track the performance of Barcelona forward Paco Alcacer who was given a chance to shine by boss Ernesto Valverde on Tuesday night.

With qualification to the knockout phase of the competition already secured and second-placed Juventus, realistically, being unable to catch Blaugrana at the top of Group D – the hosts made several changes for the visit of Sporting Lisbon – a side who were still in with a shot of progressing.

As it was, Alcacer – who replaced the rested Lionel Messi and led the line alongside Luis Suarez and Nelson Semedo, played the full 90 minutes in a comfortable 2-0 win.

The 24-year-old scored a second-half header from a corner following Denis Suarez’s assist. Former Barca defender Jeremy Mathieu, on his return to Catalonia, then netted an own goal in the dying minutes.

Here, we look at Alcacer’s performance in-depth:

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BASIC STATS

Goals – 1

Assists – 0

Shots – 3 (1 on target)

Dribbles – 0

Passes – 50

Key passes – 0

Pass Accuracy – 80%

Touches – 64

Aerials Won – 3

EFFECTIVENESS

While he has very much been a bit-part player since signing for the Catalan giants from Valencia at the beginning of last season, with options short in attack, Alcacer is a handy player for Valverde to have up his sleeve.

The 24-year-old, who scored an important brace last month in the 2-1 home league success over Sevilla, clearly needs to play more matches and definitely took his opportunity.

Alcacer may not be the most talented or technical frontman but there’s no doubting his eye for goal and willingness to stay in the penalty area – a fox in the box if you like.

His reward came in the 59th minute when the ex-Getafe forward showed clever movement and energy to get on the end of Suarez’s set-piece – glancing a header into the back of the net.

It has to be said that Alcacer is more suited to playing centrally, rather than on the left, but he is a useful back-up for Barca in a campaign where they’ve been short of alternatives other than the obvious.

Barcelona's Spanish forward Paco Alcacer (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League football match FC Barcelona vs Sporting CP at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

A much-changed Barcelona side.

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