Lionel Messi 9/10, Ousmane Dembele 8/10 as Barcelona turn on the style vs. PSV
Lionel Messi hit a superb hat trick as Barcelona thumped PSV Eindhoven 4-0 to get their Champions League campaign underway with a bang at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
The Argentine's free kick opened the scoring and, after Ousmane Dembele's excellent individual strike, Messi added two more as Barcelona ran amok, despite Samuel Umtiti's dismissal.
After an anemic performance against Real Sociedad, Barcelona improved here. Messi was back to his usual unstoppable best, adding another hat trick, his eighth in the Champions League. Dembele continued his own excellent form in front of goal and continues to grow in confidence and consistency. Barcelona's European campaign is off to the perfect start.
Umtiti's needless dismissal means Barcelona must face Tottenham at Wembley without him in the next group game. The English side will be desperate after their opening-day defeat to Inter Milan and Ernesto Valverde must now throw Clement Lenglet into a high-pressure situation. Barcelona will also wonder how they would have made the breakthrough without the individual genius of Messi.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Barcelona are desperate to win the Champions League after last season's humiliating quarter-final collapse at Roma and coach Ernesto Valverde put out his strongest team, the "Gala XI". That group did the job without much fuss, getting the Catalans going in impressive fashion. Valverde's changes made sense, with Arthur coming on for Ousmane Dembele after Umtiti's red card a sensible change as Barcelona looked to keep the ball.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- The Barcelona stopper had few saves to make but was alert to any loose balls around the box, moving quickly to stop danger before it started and happy to dart out of his area to clean up.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Sent back to his new position on the right of defence with Nelson Semedo dropped, the Catalan stood up well to Steven Bergwijn's attacks on the flank and contributed carefully going forward too.
DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Looked worried as Bergwijn ran at him but made up for not being able to stop the winger with an excellent block from Hirving Lozano's strike as PSV broke into the box searching for the equaliser. A solid display otherwise from the centre-back.
DF Samuel Umtiti, 4 -- Sent off for two foolish yellow cards. The first for dissent after a foul on the halfway line and the second for a cynical block on the flying Lozano with Barcelona three goals up. Now, needlessly, he will not be available for the game at Tottenham.
DF Jordi Alba, 7 -- Although the usually lightning fast Alba was beaten in an early footrace by Lozano, the Spaniard made amends with a superb piece of covering play to foil a PSV attack, earning him high-fives from Roberto and Umtiti.
MF Sergio Busquets, 7 -- The usual steady display from Barcelona's midfield metronome. Perhaps the biggest single reason for the difference in control the Catalans had here compared with Saturday's narrow win at Real Sociedad.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 6 -- Covered a lot of ground as usual, popping up on both the left and right of midfield. The Croatian saw a powerful drive from distance kept out by Jeroen Zoet. However, at times his passing wasn't on the same wavelength as his midfield colleagues and he conceded possession.
MF Philippe Coutinho, 7 -- The brightest spark for Barcelona in the opening stages with his clever footwork and quick passing helping cut through PSV lines. Wastefully curled an effort off-target early in the second half before seeing PSV's goalkeeper claw out a better hit.
FW Lionel Messi 9 -- Some succulent early passes were not capitalised on by his teammates so the No.10 stepped up to the plate himself. Messi's stunning 20-yard free kick broke the deadlock, whisked high over Zoet and into the top corner. It was his eighth free-kick goal in 2018, a new high for a calendar year. Added his second by stroking the ball home on the volley and a third late on to complete his hat trick.
FW Luis Suarez, 8 -- The Uruguayan failed to score in all of Barcelona's Champions League group games last season and although he didn't manage one here either, he came extremely close with an outrageous lob that struck the crossbar. Made some excellent lay-offs to try to tee up teammates and at times pressed the PSV defence and goalkeeper all on his own in a hungry performance.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 8 -- Gave the ball away a couple of times early on but helped create the opening goal with a high-speed burst down the pitch that nobody else on the team could have managed. He was brought down at the end of it and Messi took no prisoners with the free kick. Netted the second himself after a brilliant turn, curling home from distance to continue his goal-scoring form this season.
DF Clement Lenglet, N/R -- Came on for Coutinho to fill the gap in the defence following Umtiti's red card.
MF Arthur, N/R -- Replaced Dembele in the final stages.
MF Arturo Vidal, N/R -- Another brief cameo from the bench, coming on for Rakitic.