Barcelona just about held out for a goalless draw at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen was his team’s saviour in his homeland with a series of great stops including a flying penalty save from Marco Reus’s second half penalty.
But there were a few other strong performances from the Spanish side, who were fortunate to return home with a point.
Check out how everybody fared with our full player ratings.
Burki 6. Wasn’t forced into any serious saves by a toothless Barca attack, but did what he had to well.
Hakimi 7. Got forward whenever he could, showing good athleticism to cover lots of ground up and down the field.
Akanji 6. Composed and concentrated in the centre of defence, doing a no-nonsense job with calm efficiency.
Hummels 8. Outstanding in defence. Showed good anticipation, reading the game perfectly to break up several attacks.
Guerreiro 6. The left-back grew into the game as an attacking force and shadowed Messi closely in the latter stages.
Witsel 7. A calming presence in the home team’s midfield, doing a good job both with and without the ball.
Delaney 6. Was booked early on for a foul on Busquets and never truly imposed himself. Kept it simple with the ball.
Sancho 7. Caught the eye with several dangerous bursts down both flanks, but fired a decent chance well over the bar.
Reus 6. Offered a consistent threat as a support striker, but squandered several chances including a saved penalty.
Hazard 6. Created a decent chance for Reus with a powerful run. Regularly swapped flanks with Sancho before being replaced.
Alcacer 6. Linked play well against his former club. Dragged a half-chance wide and fired a free-kick into the wall.
Brandt 7. Came on for Hazard and provided a serious spark, thumping a brilliant long-range strike against the crossbar.
Larsen 5. Replaced Alcacer up front for the final stages but had little chance to impress as the game petered out.
4 - @mterstegen1 has saved four of the six penalties he has faced in #UCL. Since the beginning of detailed data collection in 2003-04, no other keeper has saved more (Pyiatov also 4). Wall. #BVBFCB pic.twitter.com/oT8mVVgP2H— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) September 17, 2019
Ter Stegen 9. Made a brilliant stop from Reus’ penalty and several more good saves, mostly from the same player.
Semedo 4. Given a tough time throughout, especially by Sancho, and conceded a penalty with a clumsy foul on the Englishman.
Pique 5. Had some troubled moments at the back and was booked for one late lunge just outside the box.
Lenglet 5. Never particularly convincing in the centre of defence, lacking decisiveness and a sense of authority.
Alba 6. Enterprising for the opening half hour but then had to be replaced after suffering a thigh injury,
De Jong 6. Led his team’s pressing without the ball and did a good job protecting the back four after Busquets was replaced.
Busquets 6. Used the ball well in front of the back four, but vulnerable when Dortmund countered at pace and subbed off.
Arthur 6. Pulled the strings at times in the centre of the pitch, but had other periods of play when he drifted out of the game.
Fati 5. Played an hour on his Champions League debut and saw plenty of the ball without shining. Had a volley deflected over the top.
Suarez 6. Back in the starting line-up and looked sharp, coming close with a narrow-angled effort but largely lacking service.
Griezmann 6. Had a low early shot deflected wide and worked hard up and down the left, but a minimal attacking threat
Sergi Roberto 6. Came on when Alba got injured, taking over at right-back. Helped his team’s build-up play with astute passing.
Messi 6. Made his first appearance of the season from the bench and showed flashes of danger without quite breaking through.
Rakitic 6. Introduced into the midfield to replace Busquets and did a steady job without making a major impact.
Borussia Dortmund versus Barcelona didn’t live up to the hype. Neither did Napoli versus Liverpool. It’s over to Salzburg instead, where a 19-year-old man-mountain distinguished himself with a first-half hat-trick that made him a lock for Carolina Herrera hero of the day.
Erling Braut Haaland, remember the name. The Norway prodigy singed the fingers of transfer rumour writers across the globe in the space of 45 minutes, as he became the first teenager since Wayne Rooney to score more than one goal on his Champions League debut in Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 obliteration of Genk.
Big things were expected in Austria – and by us – of a player who had already scored a quite incredible 14 goals from eight games this season. It only took him two minutes to justify every word.
Haaland, the son of former Premier League stalwart Alf-Inge, has unfathomable acceleration for someone who measures in at 6ft5in, and used it for his first before powering a low shot past the keeper.
He was given the freedom of Salzburg for his second but it still needed another cool finish, and a tap-in rounded off a dream first-half’s work.
AGE – 19
SHOTS – 3
GOALS – 3
MINUTES – 72
Ruthlessness – Haaland’s frame wouldn’t be out of place in the NBA and he hit the jackpot with his genes thanks to his natural pace, too. But this was a night on which, in his first taste of European competition, his preternatural coolness prevailed.
Belgian champions Genk are no great shakes, of course. That’s besides the point. His composure in front of goal speaks of great mental strength and if Group E opponents Liverpool and Napoli weren’t already on high alert, they are now.
Ultimately, Haaland’s end product will unlikely be enough to fire Salzburg into the knockouts given their clear frailty at the back, but he will surely be in the Champions League next year one way or another.
No matter the age, No9s with such physical and mental traits are extremely rare commodities. Let the bidding wars begin.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel feels Paris Saint-Germain can use their opening Champions League fixture against Real Madrid to deliver a big team performance.
The two European heavyweights meet at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night looking to lay down a marker in Group A.
Both sides, though, have been hit by their own selection worries, as PSG are without Brazil forward Neymar although he has seen his Champions League suspension reduced to two matches.
Despite the weight of expectation for an improvement on last season’s defeat to Manchester United in the last 16, German coach Tuchel is determined to take things one fixture at a time.
“Last year, we fell into a very strong group (with Liverpool and Napoli). It was a lot of pressure,” Tuchel said at a press conference.
“There is a lot to learn from a defeat. It was a very long phase after the defeat against Manchester United, but it is necessary to forget and look forward.
“The team have done that. We have a lot of changes, new players. But this is the first game, not a decisive match in the group.
“At the same time, it is a great opportunity to show you are capable of making a big team performance.
“Real Madrid are very strong, brave, they have won many times in the Champions League. I want to be aggressive, play fast.
“It’s our character to be active. I do not want to be too passive, we must take the ball to find solutions.”
Tuchel, though, insists there is no extra pressure being put on him by the club’s owners to make more inroads towards European glory this season.
“We never discussed with the president about that. My goal is to win tomorrow, that is clear. Then it is match after match,” he said.
Neymar’s punishment for social media comments made in the wake of PSG’s controversial 3-1 home defeat by Manchester United in March was reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The former Barcelona forward was heavily linked with a summer move back to Spain, and was jeered by PSG supporters on his return to the team for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Strasbourg – which he secured with a stoppage-time overhead kick.
Tuchel wants to draw a line under the whole saga.
“Between me and Ney, everything is clear. The transfer market is finished, he is our player. It has never been a problem between me and my player,” the PSG coach said.
Real Madrid shrugged off their own injury concerns – Croatia midfielder Luka Modric the latest absentee – with a 3-2 home win over Levante.
Head coach Zinedine Zidane is ready to take Wednesday’s match to the Ligue 1 leaders.
“We are happy to start another competition. We know that it is a complicated opponent, what we have to do, but we are ready for that,” said Zidane, who revealed Eden
Hazard could be involved after playing the last half-hour on Saturday.
“We are making a good start to the season, but of course it can be done better and we must improve at all levels.”
Karim Benzema scored twice against Levante, and Zidane believes the veteran France forward can again be a key player.
“He is scoring more, it is very decisive, but also he is a team player and I am more interested in that,” the Real Madrid coach said at a press conference.
“Maybe he will have a little more motivation because he is from Lyon, but I always love Benzema on my team.”
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