Barcelona remain unbeaten this calendar year and restored their eight-point lead at the top of the La Liga table with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Cádiz at the Spotify Camp Nou on Sunday night. Barça played very well for 60 minutes against their bogey side and had to weather the storm in the final half-hour to keep another clean sheet and get all three points.
Here are the winners and losers from the action on Sunday.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Ferran Torres: The Spaniard needed a big performance when he was given the chance to start in this one, and he was quite simply fantastic. Ferran was by far the best player on the pitch and was a terror for the Cádiz defense all night with his aggressiveness, decisiveness, dribbling and confidence. Ansu Fati seemed like a lock to start at Old Trafford on Thursday, but Ferran has given Xavi Hernández a real headache for the clash with Manchester United.
Frenkie de Jong: The Dutchman ruled midfield for the 65 minutes he was on the pitch, and it was not a coincidence that Barça lost all control at the end of the game and could no longer hold on to possession. Frenkie has been given the chance to perform his favorite role regardless of formation since the World Cup and the results are very impressive, and he figures to be one of Barça’s biggest hopes of getting a result at Old Trafford without Gavi and Pedri.
Andreas Christensen: Another Barça game, another Christensen masterclass in defending. He simply can’t do anything wrong and is perfect in every decision he makes. The anticipation skills are the stuff of legends and the timing of his tackles and aerial challenges is outstanding. Jules Kounde hasn’t been great in the last week and Ronald Araujo was out tonight, so Christensen had to shine even brighter. And he did just that.
Sergi Roberto: A goal and an assist only begin to tell the tale of Roberto’s commanding performance in this one. He struggled at the end like the rest of the team but was very good in the first 70 minutes, helping De Jong with the buildup and arriving in the box to finish plays. It’s hard to see him not starting against United, and he had a timely, strong showing that will help build his confidence for Thursday.
Marc-André ter Stegen: Big German made Big Saves again. This is MATS’ revenge season and the stop he made on a sure goal by Chris Ramos in the second half will go down as one of his best of the season. What a performance.
Gavi: No one can be Pedri, but Gavi sure pulled off a nice impression in this one. He was quick, creative and decisive with his passing and was everywhere on the pitch to provide an outlet from his teammates in the first half, and his non-stop running got Barça out of a lot of trouble at the end of the game. Excellent all-around game from the teenager.
Franck Kessie: Tough night for the Ivorian after a couple of excellent weeks in relief of Sergio Busquets, and perhaps losing the rhythm of starting multiple games in a row hurt Kessie when he came off the bench. The midfield fell apart once he replaced De Jong and was too eager to try and carry the ball forward on counter attacks when the team needed a calm presence to keep possession and stop Cádiz’s momentum. Instead Kessie lost some easy balls that led to more attacks for the visitors, and his positioning left a lot to be desired as well. Not a disaster by any means, but it’ll probably cost him a starting spot at Old Trafford with Busquets likely to return and Roberto’s excellent night.