La Liga, Estadio El Alcoraz – Huesca 0 Barcelona 0
Huesca and Barcelona played out an insipid goalless draw as Ernesto Valverde made wholesale changes to his team, resting a number of key players ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter final second leg against Manchester United.
Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez were all left out of the squad for the trip to the Estadio El Alcoraz, with youngsters Jean-Clara Todibo, Jeison Murillo, Carles Alena, Rique Puig and Moussa Wague all handed starts. Kevin-Prince Boateng was also handed a place up front.
The changes resulted in a disjointed performance from the Liga leaders, with Malcom coming closes to finding the net, rattling a near post shot off the woodwork. Ousmane Dembele and Alena also spurned opportunities.
The draw sees Barcelona momentarily extend their lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga to 12 points, but Diego Simeone’s side could narrow the gap to nine points with victory over Celta Vigo later this evening.
TALKING POINT – Ernesto Valverde’s rotations backfire once again
A trend has emerged this season. First, Valverde is criticised for not rotating his Barcelona squad sufficiently. Then, he rotates his squad and the Catalans suffer a poor result, at the very least a poor performance. This draw won’t dent Barcelona’s title chances, but it could see them concede some ground on second place Atletico Madrid. Valverde just doesn’t seem to know how to get a tune out of Barca when his best players aren’t involved.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Rique Puig (Barcelona)
There was much anticipation ahead of kick off following the inclusion of Puig in the Barcelona lineup. The 19-year-old has been hailed as the next big thing to come through the club’s famed youth academy and there were glimpses of his promise in this performance, particularly in an astonishing reverse through pass for Dembele in the first half. There is much more to come from this young man.
Huesca – Santamaria 5, Pulido 6, Miramon 5, Etxeita 6, Galan 6, Gomez 5, Rivera 5, Juanpi 5, Avila 6, Ferreiro 5, Gallego 7. Subs – Melero 5, Cucho 5, Gallar 5.
Barcelona – Ter Stegen 6, Wague 6, Todibo 7, Umtiti 5, Murillo 5, Vidal 5, Alena 5, Puig 7, Malcom 6, Dembele 6, Boateng 4. Subs – Alba 5, Coutinho 5, Arthur 5.
Pre-match… changes! Valverde has rotated his Barcelona squad for this game, with Messi and Suarez the two biggest names rested. In comes Puig, Todibo, Alena and Wague, as well as Malcom and Dembele.
16’ What a pass! That was a glimpse of what this youngster can offer Barcelona. He threaded a wonderful pass through for Dembele, but Santamaria made the save from the French winger.
40’ Across the face! Wague gets down the right side and fizzes a low cross into the six yard box, but Boateng couldn’t stretch far enough to turn his effort towards goal. That was a chance for Barcelona!
53’ Was that a penalty? The home fans and players alike believe that they should have been awarded a spot kick! Ter Stegen might have come through the back of Gallego in the penalty box! No spot kick, though.
58’ Off the post! That’s the closest either team has come to finding a breakthrough. Malcom smashed a powerful drive off the near post and then Alena’s effort on the rebound was deflected wide.