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Winners & Losers

Dembele masterclass! Winners, losers and ratings as Barcelona crush Athletic Club 4-0 at Camp Nou

3:07 AM IST 24/10/22
Dembele-Barca-Athletic-Club-2022-23
Ousmane Dembele was at the heart of everything for Barcelona as they kept the pressure on Real Madrid with a 4-0 win against Athletic Club.

Barcelona continued their perfect response to last weekend's Clasico defeat thanks to goals from Dembele, Sergi Roberto, Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres.

In truth, the game was decided inside the first quarter of the match as Barcelona raced into a 3-0 lead courtesy of an 11-minute spell that their visitors were unable to deal with. Dembele - who was involved in all four goals - got the ball rolling as he finished off Lewandowski's cross with a somewhat surprisingly well-taken header.

Once he had scored the opener, he was keen to take on the role of provider and that started by laying off the ball for Roberto who raced into the penalty area and - courtesy of a rather fortunate deflection - made it 2-0. Lewandowski was then the beneficiary of Dembele's hard work as he latched onto the perfect through ball before taking a brilliant first touch and emphatically finishing past a helpless Unai Simon.

While Barcelona's pressure waned somewhat following the injury and subsequent withdrawal of Gavi, they were still in total control of proceedings throughout the 90 minutes. That control led to a fourth goal fairly late in the second half as Dembele, once again, took on a host of opposing defenders before picking out Torres expertly inside the penalty area and he made no mistake, sliding through the legs of Simon and into the back of the net.

Read below for GOAL's winners, losers and Barcelona player ratings on a brilliant night at Camp Nou.

  • Ousmane Dembele Barcelona Athletic Club 2022-23

    Winners

    Ousmane Dembele:

    Dembele is enjoying quite the renaissance for the Blaugrana this season. After it looked as though he would be leaving in the summer, he has become one of the star players in Xavi's side.

    He was in the mood from the very first minute and he got Barcelona started with an excellent header from a cross that he would usually be supplying for Lewandowski! He was keen to return the favour for his Polish teammate later in the first half - after assisting Roberto's goal as well - with a perfect pass into his feet inside a rather crowded penalty area.

    A goal and two assists weren't enough for the Frenchman though as he put another chance on a plate for one of the substitutes, playing a perfectly weighted through ball into Torres for the home side's fourth goal.

    Alex Balde:

    He seems to be getting better with every passing week as he is handed greater responsibility by Xavi. His performance - both defensively and offensively - provided a glowing endorsement of his credentials to fill the starting left-back position every week.

    Learning from Jordi Alba will be excellent for the 19-year-old and, at the moment, he is a more valuable option in the backline than his senior teammate. It's a testament to the way he has performed this season that he is keeping two much more experienced left-backs in Alba and Marcos Alonso out of the team.

    He simply has to start whenever he is fit and available as his progress is only going to move in one direction. A hugely exciting prospect for Barcelona and Spain.

    Pablo Torre:

    One of the most highly-rated players at the club was finally handed a La Liga debut for Barcelona when he replaced Dembele in the 77th minute. With his side already four goals in front, it was the perfect environment for the young midfielder to get to grips with first-team football at Camp Nou.

    In terms of his actual performance, there were very few touches but the experience is invaluable and will leave him much better prepared perhaps later in the season when he will be needed by Xavi.

  • Ernesto Valverde Barcelona Athletic Club 2022-23

    Losers

    Ernesto Valverde:

    A return to Camp Nou to forget for the ex-Barca manager against his apprentice. He watched his side get torn apart in a frantic opening 22-minute period and, after conceding three goals, there was no way back for the visitors.

    Dropping the likes of Iker Muniain and Oihan Sancet to the bench - despite their below-par performances in midweek - didn't work and he was soon without another key member of the squad in the first half. Ander Herrera lasted little longer than 20 minutes and had to be replaced by Dani Garcia, giving Valverde yet another selection headache.

    On a slightly more positive night, his return was well received by the home supporters at a packed-out Camp Nou.

    Gavi:

    A bitter blow for the 18-year-old, for Barcelona and potentially for Spain. He looked in extreme discomfort after his collision with Garcia and was inconsolable as he left the pitch a few minutes later.

    Purely based on Gavi's reaction, it seems very unlikely that he'll be fit for the Champions League clash against Bayern Munich on Wednesday and there will be worry within the fanbase over his fitness in the longer term. Barcelona have plenty of important fixtures over the next few weeks and then there is the small matter of the World Cup.

    He did return at the end of the game to shake the hands of the opposing players in his club tracksuit so he, as well as plenty of Spanish fans, will be hoping it isn't too serious.

    Raphinha:

    Since making the big-money switch from Leeds in the summer, he hasn't quite been able to find his rhythm yet. Having played a part in each La Liga game this season, he was an unused substitute for the visit of Athletic Club and his teammates didn't struggle in attack without him.

    Against a decent side, it was probably the most complete performance of the season which doesn't bode well for the Brazilian's hopes of returning to the side. Ansu Fati and Torres were the preferred players to come off the bench in the second half while the withdrawal of Dembele handed Xavi the perfect opportunity to bring Raphinha into the game but he, instead, chose to hand Torre a league debut.

    It may well take an injury for one of this evening's starters for him to return to the starting XI in the next couple of weeks.

  • Sergi Roberto Barcelona Athletic Club 2022-23

    Ratings: Defence

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen (6/10): Another quiet night for the German goalkeeper. Although, when he had to be alert to any danger, he was always a step ahead of the Athletic forwards. He was, however, caught on the ball in the closing stages but it didn't cost him his clean sheet.

    Sergi Roberto (7/10): Showed that he is still a very good option at right-back for Xavi and Barcelona. His performance was solid defensively and included a goal after his lung-busting run with the ball into the box. Unfortunately, he had to be replaced in the last few minutes with a seemingly dislocated shoulder.

    Jules Kounde (7/10): The Barcelona defence looks so much stronger when he is at the heart of it. He didn't put a foot wrong all night and continues to show why there was so much fuss made about him in the summer.

    Eric Garcia (6/10): The jury is still out on the former Manchester City centre-back. It was one of his better performances this evening but there were still a few lapses in concentration and he was booked for a rash challenge in the second half.

    Alex Balde (8/10): Yet another glowing endorsement that the youngster is more than capable of being the starting left-back at Barcelona. He defended against the dangerous Nico Williams brilliantly and was just as good on the ball as he helped to launch attacks. A coming-of-age performance.

  • Pedri-Barca-2022-23

    Midfield

    Sergio Busquets (7/10): Had his fair share of critics this season but still provides a very solid option at the base of the midfield. He benefitted massively from having De Jong next to him but there were still a few mistakes from the veteran. He preserved his side's clean sheet in the closing stages as he kept out a certain consolation goal after Ter Stegen was caught on the ball.

    Frenkie de Jong (7/10): A very convincing showing in his favoured position on the right of a three-man midfield. He isn't often played in the role that he filled so well at Ajax but, when he is, he shows exactly why he cost so much money.

    Pedri (7/10): Another productive evening. As always, he was everywhere during his time on the pitch and was very nearly rewarded with, what would have been, an ingenious goal as he blocked Garcia's clearance onto the outside of the woodwork.

    Gavi (6/10): A sad evening for the Kopa Trophy and Golden Boy winner as injury forced him off just after the half-hour mark. He'll be hoping that it is nothing serious as the World Cup pulls closer into view.

  • Robert Lewandowski Ousmane Dembele 2022-23

    Attack

    Ousmane Dembele (9/10): The stand-out player on a brilliant night for Barca. Involved in all four goals, the first of them courtesy of an extremely rare header. He will play a pivotal role if Xavi's side are to push Real Madrid all the way in the title race.

    Robert Lewandowski (7/10): A goal and an assist in the hour he was on the pitch, not bad at all! His cross for Dembele's opener was pinpoint and his goal 10 minutes later was emphatic after an excellent first touch. A very good evening's work.

  • Xavi Barcelona Athletic Club 2022-23

    Manager & Subs

    Franck Kessie (6/10): Replaced Gavi in the first half and, despite not being heavily involved, didn't step out of line once.

    Ansu Fati (6/10): Would've loved a goal after coming off the bench but it wasn't to be for the youngster.

    Marcos Alonso (6/10): Replaced Kounde in the centre-back position that will have been very unfamiliar for him but looked assured in the final half an hour.

    Ferran Torres (7/10): Another strong showing from the Spaniard. He followed up his goalscoring Clasico cameo and his performance against Villarreal with a very well-taken goal from the bench.

    Pablo Torre (6/10): Handed his debut by Xavi and will have taken plenty from his maiden run out at Camp Nou.

    Xavi (8/10): Got it absolutely spot on against Athletic. A yellow card for berating the officials tarnished the evening somewhat for the Barca boss but he won't be losing sleep over that. Onto Bayern Munich in midweek!