The Argentine forward was handed a two-match ban after his red card against Athletic Bilbao and as such the Catalan giants were forced to beat Cornella without their main source of inspiration.
Although Barcelona eventually did that, Koeman will undoubtedly be concerned with how much the rest of his squad struggled for large parts of the match.
✔️ GOOD PERFORMANCE
It seems rather fitting that on a night that Barcelona were forced to play without Messi, the one player that did come out of the ordeal with pass marks was the club’s new, exciting attacking prospect.
Although the 18-year old wasn’t introduced until the 74th minute, Pedri made an almost immediate impact when he got on the end of a rebound in the 87th minute, before watching his shot get blocked by a nearby defender.
Fortunately for the young player and his side, the breakthrough came in the 92nd minute when Ousmane Dembele latched on to a super pass from Pedri to break through and fire the all-important first goal past the goalkeeper.
As if that wasn’t enough, the young forward then provided another exquisite long pass to pick out an unmarked Martin Braithwaite inside the box with moments left of the game. The Dutch forward then took his time to pick a spot and slammed the ball into the back of the net.
❌ BAD PERFORMANCE
Albert Estelles: 4.9
Despite his side holding out for 92 gruelling minutes against one of the biggest clubs in the world, it seemed as though defender Albert Estelles did his best to lose the game for his side.
Not only did the defender give away the first of two penalties in the 38th minute when he fouled an opposing player directly in front of the goalkeeper but he also then got himself sent off moments before Barcelona’s second goal in the 118th minute without another poor challenge. Cornella’s team can be proud of their performance on Thursday night, but Estelles may want to forget this match as quickly as possible.
⭐ STAR MAN
Ramon Juan Ramirez: 9.2
Although Barcelona ultimately managed to get through this cup tie with a win, there’s little doubt that Koeman’s side could have had the result wrapped up far quicker and far sooner if not for a heroic performance between the sticks by Ramon Juan Ramirez.
The first big moment came in the 38th minute, when Albert Estelles fouled an opposing player to award Barca a penalty. Miralem Pjanic stepped up with every intention of scoring a comfortable, early goal but his shot, fired towards the bottom left corner, was saved by a leap from Ramirez.
Remarkably, the Cornella keeper repeated the feat just 10 minutes before full time when Pol Moreno offered Barcelona a late chance to win the match by committing a foul in the box. This time it was Ousmane Dembele who stepped up to try and score from the penalty spot, but again Ramirez correctly anticipated the shot and saved a shot fired down the middle of the goal.