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Barcelona fall to Real Madrid in Ernesto Valverde's debut

Barcelona fall to Real Madrid in Ernesto Valverde's debut
From ESPN - August 13, 2017

Barcelona will have to win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday to retain the Spanish Super Cup after they were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid on Ernesto Valverde's official debut.

An even first leg exploded to life in the second half after Gerard Pique's own goal gave Madrid the lead at Camp Nou. Lionel Messi equalised from the penalty spot when Keylor Navas brought down Luis Suarez, but Zinedine Zidane's side pulled away in the final 10 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench to edge Madrid back into the lead, before being sent off after picking up a second yellow card for diving, and Marco Asensio rounded off the win for the 10-man visitors.

Positives

There was a lively performance from Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi looks in good shape, but there was little else which would have impressed Valverde.

Negatives

This defeat served to show the amount of work this team needs -- and what was, largely, already known. Width and pace are desperately needed following Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain, while last season's midfield problems have still not been fixed. In an ideal world those issues could be solved internally, but in reality, the club are going to have to go big in the transfer market in the next two weeks.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Valverde's decision to start Gerard Deulofeu backfired, with Madrid able to take advantage of the extra man in midfield. In the first hour, especially, there was also little urgency about Barca, who only really came to life when the game opened up later.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Made two first half saves, the first from Casemiro and another tougher one from Gareth Bale. Little he could have done with any of Madrid's goals, but still finding his feet having only returned to work earlier this month.

DF Aleix Vidal, 6 -- Lots of energy and involvement, little real quality, especially further forward. His battle for a right-back spot with Nelson Semedo this season is going to be a close one.

DF Gerard Pique, 5 -- Dealt well with Bale in the first half, producing a brilliant back heel to get himself out of trouble at one point, but was involved in all three Madrid goals after the break. The opener came off him and deflected into his own net and he then failed to get close enough to Ronaldo and Asensio for the visitor's second and third goals.

DF Samuel Umtiti, 7 -- The best Barca player on the pitch in first half. He looked composed, calm and confident at the beginning of his second full season with the club.

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