Barcelona and Benfica played an eventful 0-0 draw at Camp Nou on Tuesday night, with second place in Group E to replay.
The hosts were by far the best of the two sides in the first half, although they had a hard time getting their dominance translated in the final third. Despite Xavi’s men forcing some chances to break the deadlock – including a Yusuf Demir attempt that crawled on the crossbar – it was Benfica who saw more action in front of goal.
Roman Yaremchuk had a nod that was sensationally saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, before Nicolas Otamendi saw the best finish he will ever make chalk when the ball left the court during the build-up.
Neither side found too much joy in what was a much calmer start to the second period – although the introduction of Ousmane Dembele heightened the hosts’ intensity. Frenkie de Jong should have put his side the lead with 25 minutes left, and failed to target Dembele’s posts on either side of Odyssea’s Vlachodimos.
Xavi’s team continued to press for the opener, believing they had found it when Ronald Araujo redoed Jordi Alba’s cross, only for the Uruguayan to be heartbroken at the sight of a flag being raised.
Camp Nou then had their hearts in their mouths when Haris Seferovic ended up in front of an empty goal after rounding Ter Stegen from a counterattack. Unexplained, but the Swiss national team player pushed the ball next to it and sent Benfica boss Jorge Jesus to his knees in disbelief.
In the end, neither side managed to get the elusive goal, and had to settle for a goalless draw that leaves the door wide open for qualifying for the knockout stage with only one match left.
This is how the Barcelona players rated it in the evening.
Jordi Alba wants to get a head start on his opposition / LLUIS GENE / GettyImages
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 7/10 – Outstanding save to keep Yaremchuk away in the first half and was good for his zero.
Ronald Araujo (RB) – 7/10 – Stopped in to make a three-man back line in possession and did his job stoically. Devastating to see his ecstasy turn into heartache in seconds when the lineman ruined the fun.
Gerard Pique (CB) – 7/10 – A commanding and loud presence in the heart of the defense, which handled Yaremchuk well when he won ten air battles.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – 7/10 – Defended resiliently, managed five ball recoveries and was usually stable with his distribution outside the defense.
Jordi Alba (LB) – 6/10 – Practically a left-handed attacker throughout, who makes some bombing arrows forward. Saw an effort well saved in the first half, although uncharacteristically never managed to deliver adequate quality from width.
Nico Gonzalez had a good match in midfield / LLUIS GENE / GettyImages
Sergio Busquets (DM) – 7/10 – Apparently much more comfortable with Xavi at the helm. Fantastically silky smooth and neat in possession while you read the play effortlessly, making seven balls.
Nico Gonzalez (CM) – 7/10 – Brilliant intensity in all aspects of his game, which provides a thorough effort both offensively and defensively. Effective in his pressing while building up the game well, with four key passes.
Frenkie de Jong (CM) – 6/10 – Made some fantastic upsets on the pitch, bulldozing his way through opposition lines, but his influence was only periodic and was largely overshadowed by his midfield colleagues.
Frustrating night for Memphis Depay / JOSEP LAGO / GettyImages
Yusuf Demir (RW) – 6/10 – Light all the time and even though he often failed to produce an end product, he was desperately unlucky to see a great effort hit the crossbar. Definitely showed his potential, and even provoked commentator Guy Mowbray to compare him to Lionel Messi – how original.Memphis Depay (ST) – 3/10 – Linked games nicely in deep areas, but was awful otherwise. Pathetically sloppy in front of goal, constantly overplaying and missing golden-edged chances.Gavi (LW) – 7/10 – Sickly good to watch; a little terrier without possession and a little magician with it. Clinically sharp and creative as he sprung through his resistance and pressed incessantly to register four tackles.
? @Dembouz? @ yusufdemir_10 ??? # BarçaBenfica
– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 23 November 2021
Ousmane Dembele (RW) – 7/10 – Immediately provided an injection of energy, dazzling for La Blaugrana. His side’s most creative player in the later stages, but was disappointed by his teammates’ poor finish.
Sergino Dest (LW) – 6/10
Eric Garcia (CB) – 6/10