Substitutes Denis Suarez and Paulinho provide spark in Barcelona rally
Barcelona were reliant on goals from substitutes Denis Suarez and Paulinho as they came from behind to beat Getafe 2-1 and maintain their 100 percent record in La Liga.
Gaku Shibasaki's sublime first-half volley had given the home side a deserved lead, but Ernesto Valverde's side rallied after the break to make it four wins in four games in the league.
Paulinho has had to put up with a lot of unfair criticism since he joined the club, so he will have particularly enjoyed silencing a few doubters with his late winner, an expertly taken finish from inside the area. Denis' goal was good, too, and Barca will be delighted with the contribution made from the bench.
An awful first half performance revealed this team is not without its flaws Valverde will, of course, know that and he will be working on where improvements are needed. One of his biggest challenges right now is helping Luis Suarez re-find his best form.
More bad news for Barca came in the form of an injury to Ousmane Dembele. The club's record signing is set for a few weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Valverde opted against making wholesale changes after a busy period of games for club and country and may well regret it, with his side looking out of shape in the first half. However, his substitutes changed the game, with Denis and Paulinho scoring the goals that won Barca the game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Was regularly involved in the first half, but not overly tested. Certainly can't be blamed for Gaku's stunning opening goal.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Replacing Nelson Semedo, Roberto represented the only change from the side that beat Juve in midweek. Produced a disciplined performance and set up Denis' goal, but is not going to make the right-back position his own this season.
DF Gerard Pique, 5 -- Lucky on two counts in the first half: Only received a yellow card for a rugby challenge just outside the area and deflected a cross narrowly wide of his own goal. Did improve after half-time, though.
DF Samuel Umtiti, 7 -- There was a penalty shout against the French defender, but replays showed he just nicked the ball away with his toe in time. Another solid display.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 -- While Alba is enjoying himself and the space in front of him on the left, over the course of the season he might benefit from a bit more help in front of him.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 5 -- Sporting a new platinum blond hairstyle, Rakitic was easy to spot on the pitch. However, he wasn't quite able to maintain the levels that he has set in the last few weeks. Taken off in the second half for Paulinho.
MF Sergio Busquets, 6 -- A game of two halves. Poor in the first half but better in the second, much like Barca, who rely on Busquets to make them tick.
MF Andres Iniesta, 5 -- Perhaps one game too many for the Barca captain. This was his fifth start in two weeks and it looked as if he lacked a little sharpness. Taken off at half-time and may well be rested on Tuesday, when Eibar are due at Camp Nou.
FW Ousmane Dembele, N/R -- A full league debut to forget for Barcelona's record signing. Struggled to make an impact in a difficult game and then hobbled off with what looked like a hamstring injury after pulling up in the 24th minute.
FW Luis Suarez, 4 -- One of his worst performances in a Barça shirt, perhaps summed up by one more in the last 10 minutes. Given the ball on the break, his first touch took him away from the goal and his second was an awful pass looking for Messi. Just one goal in five games this season has to be a worry.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- It's difficult to do everything on your own every week, but that doesn't stop Messi from trying. Came close to an equaliser with a fine free kick on the brink of half-time, but Vicente Guaita produced a brilliant save. Overall this was a quiet Messi, yet he still played the pass for the winning goal.
FW Gerard Deulofeu, 6 -- Got into some good areas, but was wasteful in the final third after coming on for the injured Dembele.
MF Denis Suarez, 8 -- Changed the game after replacing Iniesta. A fine finish to bring the scores level and he grew in confidence from there. He can be the midfielder Barca need, but Valverde needs to get these sort of performances from him on a regular basis.
MF Paulinho, 7 -- Lots of Barca fans were critical of the decision to sign the 29-year-old Brazilian, but he showed why he can be useful here. His run for the goal was the sort of run no other midfielders at the club would make. Messi picked him out and he produced a great finish.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.