Barcelona 2-0 Cadiz: Player ratings as late Pedri & Torres strikes spare Barca blushes

William of England
By William of England 9 Min Read
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By Sean Walsh

Barcelona’s first La Liga game back at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys ended with a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Cadiz.

Xavi’s side were frustrated by their resolute visitors throughout but kept their cool and eventually found a way through late on via Pedri, with Ferran Torres providing the finishing touches.

The reigning champions were desperate to make up for only drawing at Getafe on the opening day of the season and just about came up with the three points back on Catalan soil.

How the game unfolded

The hosts were incensed when they weren’t awarded a sixth-minute penalty when Lamine Yamal – the youngest La Liga starter in the 21st century at the age of 16 years and 38 days – was shoved to the ground by Javier Hernandez, with the Cadiz left-back deemed to have made a rough but fair challenge by the referee.

Barcelona managed to ride a wave of early Cadiz physicality and carved out the first clear-cut chance of the game when the visitors failed to clear a free-kick, with Yamal’s cross somehow headed straight at Jeremias Ledesma by Pedri from under six yards out.

A deep cross from makeshift centre-back Frenkie de Jong was met by Robert Lewandowski, whose header was similarly tame and Cadiz escaped immediate danger again.

Yamal’s impressive start saw him rob Hernandez of a loose ball and force Ledesma into a fine stretching save with a curling strike towards the far post.

Another diagonal ball over the top saw Pedri find Jules Kounde, who brought another top save out of Ledesma.

From the resulting corner, Cadiz nearly took the lead. Roger stole possession off of Alejandro Balde on the halfway line and darted towards goal, only for Marc-Andre ter Stegen to stand tall and deny him.

Almost immediately from kick-off to begin the second half, Barcelona should have been ahead. Yamal’s cross-cum-shot was spilled by Ledesma and into the path of Lewandowski, who was suddenly surrounded by several Cadiz bodies by the time he was able to set himself and fire at goal, with his shot frustratingly blocked.

A poor back-pass following another corner allowed Cadiz a route to goal, with Ruben Alcaraz firing narrowly and mercifully wide from a clever cross by Alex Fernandez.

Gavi struck the crossbar with a looping header before the hour mark as Barca again went close to breaking the deadlock.

On the other side of that 60-minute timestamp, Cadiz spurned another quality chance. Christopher Ramos weaved his way in and out of several Barcelona legs to make his way into the penalty area, but his final touch took him wide and he skewed a shot narrowly past the far post.

Barcelona made several changes to try and find a breakthrough, with Ez Abde emerging from the bench to force Ledesma into a high save at his near post with a wicked strike from the edge of the box.

With ten minutes to go, Barcelona finally took the lead. Pedri played a clever give-and-go with Ilkay Gundogan in order to penetrate the Cadiz penalty area, breaking beyond the last line and poking the ball under Ledesma.

Cadiz boss Sergio Gonzalez threw on a new set of attackers to try and salvage a point – substitute Alvaro Negredo got his head on a bullet cross from the left, but the ball had too much pace on it and he was unable to get any direction behind his improvised effort.

Barcelona had the ball in the net again when Ansu Fati tapped in a cut-back from Lewandowski, but the Pole had strayed offside to meet Abde’s through ball and the goal was chalked off.

Back down the other end, Negredo flicked a high cross into the path of Darwin Machis, but his half-volley licked the paint of the crossbar and sailed into the stands.

Deep into stoppage time, Barcelona wrapped up the three points. Cadiz committed several men forward, allowing Ter Stegen to play it long for Lewandowski to nod into the path of Torres, who slotted past Ledesma and sealed the win.

Barcelona player ratings (3-4-2-1)

origin 1Pedri was superb | Soccrates Images/GettyImages

GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 7/10 – Made a string of fine saves to keep Barcelona afloat.

CB: Jules Kounde – 5/10 – Tucked inside to form a back three off the ball but bombed on as another attacking body on it. Wasn’t much use at either end.

CB: Andreas Christensen – 5/10 – Sometimes left isolated by Barcelona’s ultra-attacking formation and clearly did not want to get into a race or physical battle with Cadiz’s pair of forwards.

CB: Frenkie de Jong – 6/10 – Stepped into midfield before shirking his defensive responsibilities altogether. Needed a helping hand in connecting Barcelona’s attacks.

RM: Lamine Yamal – 7/10 – Now La Liga’s youngest ever starter just a month after turning 16. Took on the responsibility of leading Barcelona’s attacks and out-performed many of his senior teammates.

CM: Oriol Romeu – 6/10 – Broke up play well and kept things simple in the middle of the park.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 7/10 – Afforded the freedom to crash the Cadiz box just as was the case in his Manchester City days, though to little avail until late on.

LM: Alejandro Balde – 5/10 – Pushed high up the pitch like an orthodox winger. Stretched play but wasn’t much of a threat.

AM: Gavi – 5/10 – Bundled his way into challenges and tackles while bustling about the pitch, but aside from hitting the crossbar from a corner failed to make a noticeable difference.

AM: Pedri – 9/10 – Barcelona’s primary source of creativity found it hard to shine when swarmed by yellow shirts and left to drown by disinterested teammates. He managed to break free from those shackles and come up with an inspired winner.

CF: Robert Lewandowski – 6/10 – Missed a huge chance to take the lead early on and Barcelona struggled to carve their opponents open at will thereafter. Manhandled by Cadiz’s brute centre-backs for the most part but got his revenge with a clever assist in added time.

Substitutes

SUB: Ansu Fati (68′ for Balde) – 6/10

SUB: Ez Abde (68′ for Gavi) – 7/10

SUB: Sergi Roberto (79′ for Romeu) – 6/10

SUB: Eric Garcia (79′ for Christensen) – 6/10

SUB: Ferran Torres (85′ for Yamal) – 8/10

Subs not used: Astralaga (GK), Kochen (GK), Casado, Lopez

Manager

Xavi – 6/10 – Replaced by his brother Oscar on the touchline due to suspension. Barcelona still have the same teething issues in front of goal but they’re working through the problem.

Cadiz player ratings (4-4-2)

GK: Jeremias Ledesma (7); RB: Isaac Carcelen (5), CB: Luis Hernandez (6), CB: Fali (6), LB: Javier Hernandez (6); RM: Ivan Alejo (6), CM: Ruben Alcaraz (6), CM: Federico San Emeterio (5), LM: Alex Fernandez (6); CF: Christopher Ramos (6), CF: Roger (5)

SUBS: Ruben Sobrino (5), Darwin Machis (5), Alvaro Negredo (N/A), Jose Mari (N/A), Milutin Osmajic (N/A)

Manager: Sergio Gonzalez (6)

Player of the match – Pedri (Barcelona)

This article was originally published on 90min.com as Barcelona 2-0 Cadiz: Player ratings as late Pedri & Torres strikes spare Barca blushes.

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