Riqui Puig came off the bench for Barcelona against Athletic in La Liga and made an instant impact to change the tempo of proceedings, with the Blaugrana eventually winning 1-0 after a goal from Ivan Rakitic.
What was Puig's overall display like?
📷 Match Snapshot
In the first 55 minutes against Athletic, Barcelona were slow in possession and running out of ideas in attack, with only, obviously, Lionel Messi looking capable of opening up the sturdy Basque defence.
In the 56th minute, Puig entered the action and the whole dynamic of the match changed. With his youthful exuberance, slight frame, and whippet movement, he gave the home side a lift. Messi looked happier, too, finally having something who can pick up the ball between the lines for him to exchange one-twos with.
Although Puig didn't earn a goal or an assist on the night, he played a vital part in the winning goal, starting the move with a fantastic midfield-splitting pass through the middle for Arturo Vidal.
The 20-year-old had a pass completion rate of 84% which may not seem like a lot, but it was because he dared to try passes to unlock the opposition defence, while team-mates before had been far too safe in their distribution in the final third.
Barcelona 1-0 Athletic: Full Player Ratings and Statistics" href="https://www.footballcritic.com/primera-division-fc-Barcelona-Athletic-club/match-stats/1696674">Barcelona 1-0 Athletic: Full Player Ratings and Statistics
After earning an assist for the goal and generally being, by far, the best player on the pitch again, Messi earned an 8.6 FC Rating for his performance.
〽️ Rating Week-on-Week
With regards to match statistics, Puig actually performed better in his last outing for Barcelona, earning a 6.7 FC Rating against Leganes, but his overall impact on the match was certainly not as vital as against Athletic.
🗝️ Key Stats
Puig match stats
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After the match, Quique Setien said: "Riqui and Ansu coming on gave us dynamism. You don't know when it is time for the young players, but we have two good footballers who are already playing minutes and have the chance to make it difficult for the starters.
"They will help us a lot. This is how starting spots are earned."
In Barcelona's next match against Celta, you would expect to be pushing for a starting berth.