Ousmane Dembele oozed magic as his second half display helped Barcelona register an impressive comeback win over Linares Deportivo.
Barcelona booked their place in the Round of 16 of the Copa Del Rey after securing a narrow 2-1 victory over Linares Deportivo on Wednesday. It was yet another touch and go result for Xavi Hernandez’s men, who have started the year with two back to back wins by a one-goal margin.
As the scoreline suggests, it was not the best of performances from Barcelona, especially in the first half. While they were able to keep the opposition busy with their constant attempts on goal, a majority of their efforts came from outside the box. It put very little pressure on goalkeeper Brimah Razak, while Linares bagged themselves a goal in the 19th minute through Hugo Diaz.
It was a major blow for Xavi’s men, who had no response to Linares’s resolute defence other than tame efforts from long-range. It effectively forced the Barcelona manager to ring in the changes at half-time.
While the half-time score was grim reading, the second half substitutes did end up leaving a mark in the proceedings. Barcelona soon started to penetrate the box, creating a few chances before eventually levelling the game in the 63rd minute, thanks to Ousmane Dembele. The Frenchman produced a delightful curled effort that found the lower corner of the net.
Shortly after the goal, a moment of chaos ensued when Linares Deportivo managed to restore their lead through Lolo Guerrero. But Barcelona got lucky as the goal was ruled out because Hugo Diaz was in an offside position, even though the striker was not properly obstructing the play.
However, Barcelona took advantage of the situation to launch a counter-attack, with Ferran Jutgla scoring from a brilliant curled effort. It was enough to secure safe passage through for the away side, and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Barcelona players in their narrow win over Linares Deportivo this midweek.
Neto could not have done anything to keep out Diaz’s opener in the first half. But he was extremely lucky to get away with some shoddy goalkeeping that saw Barcelona concede another goal, which was eventually ruled out.
Oscar Mingueza: 5/10
Oscar Mingueza failed to replicate his performance from the Mallorca game. He failed to track down Diaz for Linares’s opener but did make a good impression with his offensive runs, notably registering an assist for the equaliser.
Golo do Hugo Díaz
— GoncaloDias17 (@goncalo_diass17) January 5, 2022
Eric Garcia: 5/10
Eric Garcia was a mere spectator and looked all over the place when Linares scored early through Diaz. He did improve afterwards, but it was far from an impressive display from the centre-back.
Ronald Araujo: 6/10
Ronald Araujo was the only Barcelona centre-back not at fault for conceding the opener. He was by far the pick of the Barcelona defenders, offering solidity in possession while remaining resolute at the back. The youngster is seemingly proving to be one of the most important players for the Catalans.
Dani Alves: 6.5/10
Dani Alves was handed his second debut for Barcelona, and he operated as a right wing-back. He left a good impression with his involvement in the attack, offering good forward passes while linking up well with teammates out wide. The veteran may have been a little vulnerable defensively, but it is apparent he could be an excellent addition to this team during the second half of the campaign.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5/10
Sergio Busquets was one of the best players on the pitch for Barcelona. He studied the game well in the number six role, offering assurance in possession but more importantly, assisting the defensive line with his tackling and intuition. The veteran is truly a beneficiary of the changes Xavi has introduced to his Barcelona setup.
Nico Gonzalez: 7/10
Nico Gonzalez made a solid impression in the middle of the park. He offered an excellent work rate, always looking to find a way to make things happen in the final third, while his link-up play with the attackers also raised many eyebrows. He was unfortunate, in the end, not to find a goal.
Nico González vs Linares
90% pass accuracy
4 key passes
1 big chance created
4/5 successful dribbles
1 tackle won
1 aerial won
Pure joy to watch. ?? pic.twitter.com/sPf6s0sZgy
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) January 5, 2022
Riqui Puig: 5/10
It was yet another opportunity wasted by Riqui Puig, who was unable to offer stability in the Barcelona midfield. He kept conceding possession in dangerous areas and was unsurprisingly hooked off at half-time.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
Jordi Alba was heavily involved in Barcelona’s attacking play. His link-up and crossing from wider areas were one of the club’s key sources of creativity. However, it came at the expense of a lack of solidity in defence, with the defender notably losing track of Fran Carnicer, who delivered the assist for Diaz’s opener.
Ilias Akhomach: 5/10
Ilias Akhomach did very little to impact the proceedings, as he failed to find a bearing in the final third. He was hooked off at half-time, with Xavi opting for a more dynamic alternative in the form of Ousmane Dembele.
Ferran Jutgla: 6.5/10
Ferran Jutgla produced the all-important winner for Barcelona by scoring a brilliant goal in the second half. Apart from the goal, though, the youngster offered an excellent work ethic and was always looking for a way to breach the lines of the Linares defence. He deserves more opportunities in the first-team, despite earning four consecutive starts.
Late in the game, score is tied …
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 5, 2022
Ousmane Dembele: 7.5/10
Ousmane Dembele was the X-factor in the Barcelona attack in the second half. His pace was simply way too much for the Linares defence, which was combined with his dribbling prowess, making life difficult for the opposition. However, it was his effort from distance that deceived Razak while allowing Barcelona to claw their way back into the game.
Ousmane Dembélé, de nouveau de retour pic.twitter.com/Uemvac2dAQ
— Le Twittos du SRFC (@xzregy) January 5, 2022
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Frenkie de Jong offered more stability to the Barcelona midfielder after replacing Puig at half-time. Unfortunately, his night was cut short as an injury forced him off late in the game.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
Gerard Pique steadied the ship in the Barcelona backline in the second half after coming on for Araujo.
Alvaro Sanz: N/A
Replaced the injured de Jong late in the game. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.