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Barcelona's Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes look out of their depth vs. Celta Vigo

Barcelona came dangerously close to surrendering their unbeaten record in La Liga, drawing 2-2 with bogey team Celta Vigo on Tuesday.

Ernesto Valverde's side were fortunate to leave Balaidos with a point after Sergi Roberto was sent off with 19 minutes plus stoppage time to go.

Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez were just some of the big name players that were either left at home or started on the bench.

Ousmane Dembele gave Barca a barely deserved lead in the first half which Jonny Castro cancelled out from close range, while Paco Alcacer got the final touch in a crowded area to put Barca back in front after the break. Celta, however, continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack, leading to Roberto being sent off for hauling down the ever-lively Iago Aspas, who later knocked in the equaliser.


Despite an almighty scare at one of their least favourite grounds, Barca are still unbeaten in the league and most of their players earned a much-needed rest ahead of Saturday's Copa del Rey final.


Yerry Mina looked extremely vulnerable in defence while the displays of Andre Gomes, Lucas Digne and Nelson Semedo demonstrated that the squad is not nearly as strong as it should be.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Valverde has been very reluctant to rotate his squad this season but made up for lost time with eight changes to the team that had beaten Valencia on Saturday.

Making so many changes at once at a ground Barca consistently struggle at was a high risk move and he only just got away with it. Not giving Jasper Cillessen a game before the Copa del Rey final seemed like a bizarre choice given all the other changes but Marc-Andre ter Stegen's excellent display vindicated his decision.

Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc Andre ter Stegen, 7 -- Wore the captain's armband for the first time and showed he was worthy of such an honour by making himself big to thwart Maxi Gomez early on. Continued to make strong saves after the interval but will not be happy with his poor punch which bounced off Aspas and into the net.

DF Nelson Semedo, 5 -- Has come in for a lot of criticism following his dire display in Rome and had another difficult evening from a defensive point of view but helped compensate by getting forward, providing the cross that led to Alcacer's goal.

DF Yerry Mina, 3 -- The Colombia international really struggled here, not helped by the inexperienced defenders around him, and demonstrated why he is so often left out of Valverde's squad.

DF Thomas Vermaelen, 6 -- The former Arsenal man does not get many opportunities and had plenty to deal with from Celta's ultra-fast attackers. He was caught out on occasion but proved to be Barca's most able defender on the pitch.

DF Lucas Digne, 5 -- Did not participate much in the team's play and it is no exaggeration to say Barca's displays drop down a level when Digne plays instead of Jordi Alba.

Yerry Mina & Iago Aspas
Barcelona defender Yerry Mina, left, struggled to keep the Celta Vigo attack at bay.

MF Philippe Coutinho, 7 -- The Brazilian was Barca's most talented player on the pitch before Messi came on and he played a huge role in the opening goal, snuffing out Jonny Castro's pass and giving it straight to Alcacer. His influence began to wane in the second half.

MF Paulinho, 7 -- Played with more freedom in purpose in attack than in any other game in 2018. Frequently got himself into the box and made his presence known and the second goal, touched over the line by Alcacer, really belonged to him.

MF Andre Gomes, 4 -- The Portuguese has received a lot of sympathy after admitting his mental struggles but this was another occasion where he looked out of his depth. It was his sloppy pass to Dembele that was robbed by Aspas and led to Celta's first equaliser.

MF Denis Suarez, 6 -- Made a flying start against his hometown club and could have given Barca the lead in the opening exchanges. Slowed down a bit in the second half.

FW Ousmane Dembele, 5 -- Took his goal (his first in La Liga) superbly but did not have a good game overall. Struggled to link up with his fellow attackers on the whole and showed his worrying tendency to lose concentration when Celta regained possession to equalise in the first half.

FW Paco Alcacer, 6 -- Focused more on creating chances than trying to finish them on the whole although he got the final touch for the second strike when the ball was going in anyway.


FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- As had happened against Sevilla, Barca found themselves in serious trouble when Messi was on the bench. He restored some order after coming on but he could not produce his usual spark, especially without his usual regular starters beside him.

MF Sergi Roberto, 4 -- The only Catalan player to get on the pitch for Barca certainly showed his loyalty to the club with an attempted rugby tackle on Aspas. He was deservedly sent off 10 minutes after replacing Gomes.

MF Aleix Vidal, NR -- Replaced Dembele with 12 minutes to go but barely got hold of the ball as Celta dominated the final spell.

Richard Martin covers FC Barcelona for ESPN FC. Twitter: @rich9908.


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