Malcom 5/10 in first start for Barcelona in Copa del Rey win
Clement Lenglet's late goal earned Barcelona a hard-fought 1-0 win in the Copa del Rey against third-division Cultural Leonesa on Wednesday. The French defender headed home Ousmane Dembele's free kick in the last minute to give an experimental Barca side a slender lead going into the second leg at Camp Nou in December.
Barca kicked off their defence of the Copa del Rey with a victory as they look to win the competition for an unprecedented fifth season in a row. They did so giving time to some of the club's youngsters, too. B team defenders Chumi, Jorge Cuenca and Juan Miranda started the game, but it was midfielder Carles Alena who most impressed.
It can't be easy to come in from the dark and be expected to perform, but some of those looking to make their mark were unable to do so. It was a disappointing night for Malcom and Denis Suarez in that sense. However, it was a worse night for Sergi Samper. The midfielder is injured again. He will have tests on a calf injury on Thursday
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Ernesto Valverde did what he should for this type of match, picking a team of youngsters and squad players. That some didn't step forward as hoped is not necessarily his fault. His substitutes -- some enforced -- helped swing the game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jasper Cillessen, 8 -- Made two brilliant saves, one in the first half from Zelu and another after the break from Saul Gonzalez. Can't be many better backup goalkeepers in Europe.
DF Nelson Semedo, 6 -- One sloppy giveaway in the first half clouded an otherwise decent performance. Valverde would have liked to see him do more in attack.
DF Chumi, 7 -- The Barca B defender did well, contributing to a clean sheet on his first-team debut.
DF Jorge Cuenca, 7 -- Like Chumi, produced a good performance before being taken off for Lenglet in the second half.
DF Juan Miranda, 7 -- With Lucas Digne sold in the summer, he's Jordi Alba's only natural replacement at the club. Defended well and almost scored from 30 yards, driving just wide with the goalkeeper out of position.
MF Sergi Samper, 6 -- Making his first appearance of the season, his bad luck continued as he was forced off with a calf injury in the first half. Unfortunately, it's a familiar tale for the perennially injured midfielder.
MF Arturo Vidal, 7 -- One of the few first-team players who looked to take responsibility, albeit lacking quality at times. His attacking threat reduced when he was forced to drop back into a more defensive role when Samper exited.
MF Denis Suarez, 6 -- Wore the captain's armband but didn't produce a captain's performance. Got better in the final third of the game -- almost scoring in stoppage time -- but doesn't look like a player set to break into Valverde's first team.
FW Malcom, 5 -- Disappointed on his first competitive start following a €41 million summer move from Bordeaux. It can't have been easy coming in from the dark, out of rhythm, but he gave the ball away too much.
FW Munir El Haddadi, 5 -- Unable to affect the game and missed a great chance to open the scoring before Lenglet's winner, firing over when well placed 12 yards out.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 6 -- Not the performance many Barca fans will have wanted, but showed glimpsed of his talent. Delivered a number of good free kicks -- one of which was headed home by Lenglet.
MF Carles Alena, 7 -- Showed plenty of bright moments on the ball and had Barca's first shot on target (in the 71st minute!). Should be given more of a chance in the coming months.
DF Clement Lenglet, 7 -- Has been a constant threat in the air in recent weeks and finally got his goal here. Had also impressed with his passing, with one diagonal almost sending Dembele through.
MF Arthur Melo, NR -- A late introduction as Barca looked to win the game.