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Philippe Coutinho 8/10 with hat trick, but Barca's defence gave the game away

The ESPN FC panel discuss the manner in which Barca's 43-match unbeaten streak in La Liga came to end, without Lionel Messi on the team sheet.

La Liga champions Barcelona lost the chance to go the entire season unbeaten as Levante beat them 5-4 in a thrilling, bizarre match on Sunday night, the 37th game of 38.

The double winners crashed and burned without Lionel Messi in the side as the hosts, in 15th place, secured one of the biggest results in their history, ending Barcelona's streak at 43 league games without defeat.


This was a thoroughly disappointing night for Barcelona, but Philippe Coutinho's hat trick is a sliver of light on a dark day, as is their fightback from 5-1 down, even if they couldn't finish the job.


The Catalans blew the chance to be the first side to make it through a 38-game season unbeaten in Spain. They could have made history but fell short with just one game to go. Without Messi the team looked lost, and the defence was absolutely abysmal.

Manager rating (out of 10)

3 -- Ernesto Valverde left Messi out of the squad, presumably to rest the Argentine star, the team's talisman and top scorer. With just one league match to go, that was a strange decision, and Barcelona paid the price for it. The coach perhaps wanted to keep him fresh for the friendly in South Africa on Wednesday, against Mamelodi Sundowns to mark 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, which doesn't seem a particularly good reason to risk your team's unbeaten run. He also picked Yerry Mina, whom he had left out for weeks on end, and coming in cold the Colombian was ripped to pieces at the back.

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

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 5 -- The German goalkeeper was let down by the men in front of him, just like in Rome, and although he conceded five goals there wasn't a lot he could have done about any of them.

DF Nelson Semedo, 5 -- Arguably Barcelona's best defender on the night, but that says little indeed. With Sergi Roberto suspended, he operated on the right and worked hard but to little effect as Jose Luis Morales caused countless problems.

DF Yerry Mina, 3 -- The Colombian endured a 90-minute nightmare. Never looked comfortable in any moment, with Emmanuel Boateng and Morales shredding him at every chance they got. Even in attack, where his giant frame could be useful, he was caught offside and penalised for fouling.

DF Thomas Vermaelen, 4 -- Might be grateful that his hamstring injury in the first half earned him a substitution. The Belgian's poor presence alongside Mina offered no shelter for Ter Stegen, which Levante took as an invitation to attack.

DF Jordi Alba, 4 -- Gave the ball away for the third goal and generally made little impact when it came to winning the ball back. Going forward he was not at his best either, deprived of his usual partner in crime, Messi, to play off.

MF Sergio Busquets, 4 -- The holding midfielder looks exhausted after a long season. Nobody in the squad is capable of offering what he does, so he gets fewer rests. Usually helps Barcelona control games, but here he was bypassed again and again. A terrible pass-back nearly led to a sixth goal.

MF Ivan Rakitic, 4 -- The Croatian had one of his most ineffective games of the season, giving the ball away far too often. He looked sluggish, and as an important part of Valverde's system, if he is not playing well, it is hard for Barcelona to perform as a whole.

MF Andres Iniesta, 4 -- The Barcelona skipper will argue that games like these are the reason he is bowing out now, rather than later. In his penultimate Barcelona match, he was outplayed and barely had a look-in against the vibrant hosts.

FW Ousmane Dembele 4 -- Although he enjoyed his best Barcelona performance on Wednesday in the big win over Villarreal, he was reduced to a mere irrelevance in this match by Levante's relentless attack, which he did nothing to stem on the right.

FW Luis Suarez, 5 -- The Uruguayan blasted home his penalty with aplomb to help Barcelona cut the gap as they tried to come back, but it was about the only thing he did right on a poor night in front of goal. Missed some good chances and his touch was too slack too often.

FW Philippe Coutinho, 8 -- Iniesta's long-term replacement gave all he could to keep Barcelona from losing their unbeaten record, scoring a hat trick, even though it wasn't enough. However at least he demonstrated character in the fightback that some of his teammates lacked. Two of his goals were deflected, but that they went in was just reward for his ambition.


DF Gerard Pique, 5 -- Barcelona's talismanic defender was as helpless as his teammates at the back, but he gave the team more drive in attack, setting up Coutinho's first goal.

MF Denis Suarez, 7 -- The game changed after the Galician's introduction, as he helped Barcelona keep the ball and stay in possession.

FW Paco Alcacer, 5 -- The striker could not force his way into the game at all.

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


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