Barcelona feared a Champions League hangover after Wednesday’s comeback against Paris Saint-Germain and that is exactly what they were served at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. Goals from Joselu and Alex Bergantinos sandwiched a Luis Suarez strike as Depor took the three points, denting Barca’s title hopes and bumping them back down to earth with a bang.
The Blaugrana were always likely to receive a wake-up call after their Champions League heroics at some point — best to get it out the way as soon as possible?
Luis Enrique’s new system had so far produced four wins — three of them by five goals — but they didn’t look as smooth here and the biggest concern will be how poor it looked without Neymar’s pace and creativity on the left. This loss also ended a 19-game unbeaten run in the league and means Real Madrid can retake top spot in La Liga later on Sunday with a win against Real Betis. Zinedine Zidane’s side will still have a game in hand, too, and are once again favourites for the title.
5 — You get the feeling whatever Luis Enrique did here, it wouldn’t have worked. Barca were unable to click into top form after Wednesday’s incredible high. He at least tried to bring in some fresh legs from the off and then made early changes, but nothing worked.
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 — Went from hero to zero in a matter of minutes at the end of the first half. Made a stunning save from Joselu, before failing to hold on to the ball from the resulting corner as the same player swept home. Made another good save in the second half, though, to go some way to making amends. Also made a fine stop in stoppage time to keep his side’s disappearing hopes of a draw fleetingly alive.
DF Javier Mascherano, 6 — Another committed performance from Mascherano but this game was lost from two corners and due to a lack of inspiration in the final third.
DF Gerard Pique, 6 — Shook off an early knock to complete the game, which he ended spending a lot of time further forward trying to help his side produce another late turnaround.
DF Jordi Alba, 5 — Beaten in the air for Bergantinos’ winning goal in the second half. Did make a late clearance off the line, but the damage had already been done by then.
MF Sergio Busquets, 6 — There were some good moments from the midfielder and some fine passes, but he was only as good as this Barca performance allowed him to be — and that wasn’t very good.
MF Sergi Roberto, 5 — Had a lot on his plate here. A midfielder with the ball, a right-back without it and then a right winger at times in the final 15 minutes. Wasted some good moments in attack, though, notably gifting the ball to Depor goalkeeper German Lux after collecting a sublime pass in the area.
MF Denis Suarez, 6 — Began on the right, where Rafinha has been playing lately, and then moved to the left, where the absent Neymar is usually placed. Didn’t have his best game but sent in the cross which led to Suarez’s goal.
MF Andre Gomes, 4 — Started the game looking positive, but it quickly developed into a very familiar performance. One nice turn in the box was followed by a wild shot from a tight angle. Removed early in the second half.
FW Lionel Messi, 5 — A rare, low-key performance from the Argentine. Without the threat of Neymar on the left, Depor were able to dedicate more resources to keeping him quiet. With that in mind, it wasn’t the best day to be completely off-colour. A stoppage time free kick offered him a lifeline, but his effort whistled over the bar.
FW Luis Suarez, 6 — Scored his 21st league goal of the season but would have preferred for it to come in other circumstances. Almost scored a second, too, but for a stunning reflex save from Lux.
FW Arda Turan, 4 — Making his first start in over a month after only returning from groin injury as a sub in win against PSG in midweek, he struggled on the left of Barca’s front three. Had previously done well when the formation was 4-3-3, but was a casualty of the Luis Enrique’s shift in shape here.
MF Andres Iniesta 5 — Looked to get things going but was unable to turn the game as Luis Enrique would have hoped after removing Turan.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 5 — Tried to inject some energy into a sluggish performance after coming on for Gomes.
FW Paco Alcacer, N/R — A late throw of the dice from Luis Enrique, coming on for Denis to little affect.
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