Luis Suarez was Barcelona’s saviour once again as the reigning champions scored two goals in a minute to defeat Bayer Leverkusen in their second Champions League group stage fixture.
The Germans had taken a first half lead as Kyriakos Papadopoulos punished some weak Barca defending, profiting to the fullest from Hakan Calhanoglu’s well-taken corner. They held that lead for 60 minutes before Barca bounced back through Sergio Roberto, then a superb Suarez winner swung the game in the hosts’ direction.
Barca now top the group on four points, after BATE Borisov’s shock 3-2 defeat of AS Roma.
Marc Andre ter Stegen – 6: Yet another game without a clean sheet for the German, who was let down by some lax defending for the Leverkusen goal. Made some decent saves when called upon but he needs more help from his defence if he’s going to start keeping clean sheets.
Dani Alves – 6: Wasn’t tested much defensively and got a few decent balls into the box at the other end of the pitch.
Gerard Pique – 5: Yet again the big Spaniard looked a shadow of arguably the best defender in Europe last season. Found himself out of position on several occasions but did put in a couple of decent challenges to prevent Leverkusen attacks.
Javier Mascherano – 4: A perfect example of why he isn’t a centre back. The Argentinian got caught out by the Leverkusen counter attack on several occasions and was repeatedly wasteful in possession.
Jeremy Mathieu – 3: Showed himself to be an even worse left-back option than Adriano. He was run ragged by the pace and quality of Bellarabi and Kampl and offered nothing going forwards. Bring back Jordi Alba.
Sergio Busquets – 3: Sometimes you have to question why Busquets is even in this Barca side, and in the last few games he’s done nothing to provide an answer. Against Leverkusen he wasted the ball repeatedly and offered little protection to the defence – a complete waste of space.
Ivan Rakitic – 6: Had a solid game back in the Barca midfield and was unlucky with a handful of shots that tested Leno.
Andres Iniesta – 5: The little Spaniard once again struggled to find space and impose himself on the match before being removed on the hour mark.
Neymar – 5: Struggled to get into the game in the first half but livened up a little in the second, hitting the post and firing just wide with a great opportunity. Also got booked for diving.
Sandro Ramirez – 6: Handed his first Champions League start and showed glimpses of promise, including missing a glorious opportunity in the opening minutes. In truth, he did little to seize the opportunity to fill the gargantuan boots of the injured Lionel Messi.
Luis Suarez – 8: In true Suarez style he worked hard for the team throughout and then sealed all three points with a stunning winning goal, smashing the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
Jordi Alba – 7: Replaced Iniesta on the hour mark and his pace and directness added some much needed life to a tired Barca performance; it also led to the opening goal. Surely he now has to come back into the left-back position at the weekend?
Sergi Roberto – 7: Came on for Rakitic after 72 minutes and scored Barca’s equaliser after the Leverkusen keeper spilled Munir’s shot to him, but he also looked more lively than Rakitic. Could well have played his way into the starting eleven this weekend.
Munir El-Haddadi – 8: Replaced Sandro on 63 minutes and proved he is the best option to stand in for Messi. His shot was parried to Roberto for the opener, then a great piece of play saw him set up Suarez for the winner. This could be the evening that Munir came of age for Barca.
Bayer Leverkusen (4-4-2)
Bernd Leno – 6: Probably edged the battle of the German goalies, but should have done better when he spilled the ball to Sergi Roberto for the opening goal.
Giulio Donati – 6: Had a decent game to keep Neymar quiet, and he was rarely tested by the Brazilian.
Jonathan Tah – 7: The promising young defender did well to largely keep the Barca forward line quiet and restrict their scoring opportunities.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos – 7: The Greek international put in an excellent display to lead the Leverkusen back line and opened the scoring with a header pretty much on the Barca goal line.
Wendell – 6: Did well against his Brazilian compatriot Sandro, but struggled a little more with Munir.
Kevin Kampl – 7: Worked hard down the right and took up some intelligent positions to give Mathieu a torrid time.
Lars Bender – 6: Did well to restrict space for the Barca midfield and put in a few trademark hard tackles.
Christoph Kramer – 7: Worked tirelessly to keep up the pressure on the Barca side and got into decent positions going forwards, his performance deserved more from the game.
Hakan Calhanoglu – 7: Showed glimpses of his quality, and proved his dead ball prowess by pinging in a superb corner for the Leverkusen opener.
Karim Bellarabi – 7: The German international looks like a real talent, his pace stretched the Barca defence but he needs to work on his finishing.
Javier Hernandez – 6: As we’ve come to expect from Chicharito, he made great runs in behind the defence to get himself into some threatening positions but the last ball was disappointingly lacking.