Barcelona saw off a spirited Espanyol 1-0 in the Barcelona derby in La Liga as Xavi took charge of his first match at the Blaugrana helm. Memphis Depay struck from the spot in the 48th minute, although the visitors will be kicking themselves for wasting many chances late on.
It wasn’t the most glorious start to life under their new manager, who has returned to his boyhood club six years after leaving as a player. However, it’s still early days. So the former midfield maestro will have to be content to have picked up all three points in his first game in the Barcelona dugout.
It was also Barcelona’s first win in five games as they moved up to sixth in the La Liga standings with 20 points in 13 games. Meanwhile, newly promoted Espanyol remain 11th.
Barcelona now turn their attention to an all-important Champions League clash with Benfica on Tuesday. On that note, here’s a look at the player ratings for Barcelona:
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 7/10
The Barcelona custodian was tested a few times, but stood firm, making three saves and one punch.
Oscar Mingueza – 6/10
He was caught out of possession on far too many occasions, and also lost the ball quite easily.
Gerard Pique – 6.5/10
The veteran centre-back played some good crosses over the top, but looked suspect in defence at times.
Eric Garcia – 7/10
The Spaniard was positionally sound, and read the game brilliantly, making two clearances and interceptions apiece.
Jordi Alba – 6.5/10
The Spaniard made his trademark forward runs, but lacked the end product with his crosses.
Nicolas Gonzalez – 7/10
Adventurous, direct and pacy, Gonzalez was a thorn for Espanyol on the night.
Sergio Busquets – 7/10
He tested Espanyol with a sublime curling effort in the first half, and also laid two key passes in the game.
Frenkie de Jong – 7/10
The Dutchman was a decent attacking outlet for much of the game, but looked shaky defensively when Espanyol upped the ante.
Ilias Akhomach – 6/10
The Barcelona debutant played a nice one-two with Gavi, and looked to link up with Depay, though with mixed results. He was hooked off at the break.
Memphis Depay – 7.5/10
He got the Xavi era underway with a penalty early into the second half.
Gavi – 7/10
A menacing presence down the right, Gavi was dispossessed far too easily at times.
Ratings of Barcelona substitutes against Espanyol
Abdessamad Ezzalzouli – 6.5/10
The youngster hounded Espanyol for the ball like a Terrier.
Philippe Coutinho – 5/10
He could not make the impact he would have hoped for.
Riqui Puig – 6/10
He made some good passes.
Yusuf Demir – N/A
He came on too late to make any impact.
Ronald Araujo – N/A
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He replaced Gonzalez after he went off injured. But the game was almost into stoppage time by then.