Boateng gets 4/10 as he and heavily rotated Barca fail to create in loss to Celta
Second-half goals from Maxi Gomez and Iago Aspas helped Celta Vigo beat an unrecognisable Barcelona side 2-0 on Saturday in La Liga.
After wrapping up the league title last weekend, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde made 11 changes to the team that beat Liverpool in the Champions League in midweek with Tuesday's semifinal second leg at Anfield in mind. Celta took full advantage of those changes to ease themselves closer to safety at the bottom of the table.
Gomez broke the deadlock in the 67th minute after Nestor Araujo had a goal correctly ruled out by VAR for offside. Aspas then completed the scoring in the final five minutes, firing home from the penalty spot after VAR spotted a Moussa Wague handball.
Despite giving the penalty away, Barca B defender Wague was Barca's standout performer on a night of average displays from the majority of their players. It was also nice to see more minutes for the promising Riqui Puig and a league debut for Alex Collado.
The real positives were back in Barcelona, though. Eight of the players who started the 3-0 first-leg win against Liverpool, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, were given the night off. They were back at home with their feet up, resting ahead of Tuesday's second leg. The rest should keep them fresh.
Even though Barca rested players to avoid injuries ahead of the Liverpool game, the one player who did play who would have been in the running to start at Anfield got injured. Ousmane Dembele was forced off inside the first five minutes with a hamstring injury. The club says he will undergo tests Sunday to determine the extent of the problem, but he's unlikely to be fit for Tuesday's game in England.
January signing Jean-Clair Todibo was also forced off with a muscle problem -- and both Celta goals came after he was substituted.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Valverde's starting lineup tells you everything you need to know about his thoughts on this game: it didn't really matter. That said, the loss does allow us to bring up an impressive statistic. He has lost only four of his 74 league games in charge of Barca -- and two of them have come in games when the title was already won.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jasper Cillessen, 6 -- Wore the captain's armband on his first league start of the season. Couldn't do much about either of the two goals.
MF Moussa Wague, 7 -- The young right-back impressed in attack. His touch was fantastic and he looked a genuine threat in the final third. Was unfortunate to give away the late penalty that sealed the points for Celta.
DF Jean-Clair Todibo, 6 -- Showed plenty of potential on just his second-ever start for the club. Unfortunately, his night ended prematurely when he was forced off injured in the second half with the score goalless.
DF Samuel Umtiti, 5 -- Produced some lovely moments on the ball to get out of pressure but didn't always do the basics. Could have been closer to Gomez on the opening goal, for example. Has a real fight on his hands to win his place back from Clement Lenglet.
MF Arthur Melo, 6 -- Completed an hour as the deepest of the midfield three. Started the game well, but mistakes began to creep in as the minutes passed by.
MF Riqui Puig, 6 -- Another encouraging performance from the Barca B youngster. Showed great intuition to win several balls back and was comfortable in possession. Also had a couple of YouTube moments: a through ball for Carles Alena and a Cruyff Turn in the box.
MF Carles Alena, 6 -- Did OK but wasn't able to drive the team forward as he would have liked. Missed the chance to really build on last week's goal at Alaves.
FW Ousmane Dembele, N/R -- Injured with less than three minutes on the clock.
FW Kevin-Prince Boateng, 4 -- Anonymous for large parts of the night and clunky in possession when he did get the ball. Didn't have a single clear-cut chance to score, although his teammates didn't create a lot.
MF Malcom, 6 -- Tried hard on the left and then the right flank but things didn't come off for him. Might get more chances in the coming week if Valverde continues to rotate, especially if Dembele is out for a while.
FW Alex Collado, 5 -- The Barca B midfielder replaced Dembele in the early stages of the game, playing on the left of the front three and later on the right. Did OK, but looked a little awed by the occasion.
MF Arturo Vidal, 6 -- Came on for the final half hour as Valverde looked to add experience with the game still goalless.
DF Jeison Murillo, N/R -- Replaced the injured Todibo.