Another game into the preseason, leaves us with much to discuss. Just like before, I delve deeper into some of the players' performances and breakdown their possible roles in the first team.
Let's kick off with our third choice goalkeeper, Jordi Masip. A solid showing from Masip in between the sticks. He played well as a shot-stopper, positioning himself incredibly well, for a lot of the shots. Although his passing looked a little uncomfortable at times, he made up for it, with his positional awareness. If Barça's current goalkeeping situation should take a turn for the worse, with either of Bravo or MATS leaving, then it wouldn't be the worst idea, to depend on Masip.
With Barça's search for a fourth forward intensifying, the future of Munir El Haddadi looked to be away from the Camp Nou. Almost every one agreed that it would be best for the player's development, to get regular playing time, at a mid-table team on loan. Munir certainly silenced a lot of his critics, displaying tenacity, clinicality, and above all else, his intent to learn from the best. Linking well with Arda Turan on the left side, Munir got past his man time and again, using silky touches and pace. He made an intelligent run, to get to the end of a Lionel Messi through-ball, that he would calmly slot into the net, 25 minutes into the game.
While he had a performance to remember on the offensive end of the pitch, he did not hesitate to get dirty when Barça were pressing, making an incredible recovery during the course of the match, that looked like it was right out of Luis Suarez's playbook, pressing his man till they gave up possession, then using the body, to shield the ball, before attempting to dribble three players to move into space, and getting fouled.
Another player, who impressed with his time on the pitch, was Marlon. At the age of 20, Marlon showed composure beyond his years, making crisp, intelligent passes, and being solid defensively. He positioned himself well, on the counter, drifting into the right lanes while closing down his attacker's passing lanes, and limiting the space they can run into.
At right-back, Aleix Vidal reaffirmed what everyone already knows - He is exactly what we need on the offense, but his defensive actions are unimpressive. He was constantly involved in attack, providing width, and always being available for a pass. He cut in well, and created chances for his teammates, with some quick one-twos and used the flanks to good effect.
While he is just the man on one end, he fails to do basic defending like closing down passing lanes, when defending a counter-attack. His defensive performance was poorer, compared to his previous outing against Celtic, and he was often chasing his man instead of running into lanes. As seen below, he chooses to make a run into lane 1, chasing his man, instead of running into lane 2 like he should have.
(Ignore the faulty scoreline)
Another player, who is competing for the right-back spot is Sergi Roberto, who played a good game operating as a pivote. His game was heavily reliant on giving his defence a passing option, with both full-backs pushing high, often drifting in between the centre-backs, forming a three-man backline.
Although Roberto looked strong in midfield, he looked weak playing on the flank at fullback, unable to provide competition to the polar Vidal.
Following up on a few names from part 1 of this series, Arda Turan continued to grow at CM. He looked strong and passed well, winning balls, and pressing with tenacity. In the absence of Andres Iniesta, he looked like the only player capable of keeping up with the intricate ping-pong passing that Messi and Suarez kept attempting, in the Leicester City box.
Denis Suarez had a decent game, performing all his basic duties well, displaying his telepathic movement alongside Messi.
With all the positives out of the way, let's get into the negatives.
Jeremy Mathieu had an incredibly poor performance, often struggling with positioning, and being caught ball watching instead of putting pressure on his marker. The overall performance from the defence, including Marlon, was poor with respect to set pieces and aerial balls. Despite having multiple players in the box, Mathieu fails to apply pressure on the target man, drifting into no-man's land and ball watching, as seen below.
Another player who showed regress, was Camara, who despite providing width, gave up possession repeatedly, being bullied by his attackers, and struggling to string passes with his teammates.
Second-half substitutes Mascherano, Busquets and Samper, all failed to make a strong impression, with all three struggling to perform their basic duties to the standard expected of them, and it wouldn't be surprising, if the coach decides to send Samper on loan.
Aleña who demanded a second glance in the first game against Celtic, looked disappointing when deployed on the right wing by Luis Enrique.
With the season coming closer, it's time that the lads step up and make a strong, final impression on the coach.