Barcelona rested Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano for the trip to Germany tonight, having already qualified as Group winners.
And it showed, with Leverkusen the much better team tonight. Thanks to the keeper and a moment of Messi brilliance, the holders hang on to a 1-1 draw.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Barcelona: Video highlights and full match report from thrilling night in Germany
(Video) Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scores goal v Leverkusen after delicious Rakitic assist
GK) Marc Andre-ter Stegen – 8/10
Back in his homeland, the German was busy, saving from a trademark Calhanoglu free-kick early on. Couldn’t be blamed for Hernandez’s leveller, which was high to his right-hand side, but stood up superbly as Leverkusen got through on goal on two occasions late on.
DR) Adriano – 5/10
Not capable of the lung-busting runs he once was, and was affected by constant Leverkusen pressing.
DL) Jordi Alba – 6/10 (Camara – 72′)
Better than Adriano on the other side, but not his marauding best. In fairness to the Germans, they made his life difficult.
DC) Thomas Vermaelen 6/10
Almost gave away a goal in the 5th minute when he dawdled at the back, but it’s the Barca way to maintain possession at all opportunities. The former Arsenal man was a little rusty, but he rarely gets game time in order to build up sharpness.
DC) Marc Bartra – 5.5/10
Sloppy at times, and lost Hernandez for Bayer’s opener. Stepped up into midfield, but this left so much space for the germans to play in behind. Poor.
DMC) Sergi Samper – 7/10
He’s not quite Sergio Busquets, but he’s a handy replacement to have off the bench. Samper’s not as physical as Barca’s first choice anchorman, but he’s technically excellent. Samper controlled tempo and played some lovely one-twos as well.
MC) Ivan Rakitic – 7/10
Hard-working and creative, as Rakitic usually is. Easily the best of the three central midfielders, but that was to be expected. His assist for Messi’s goal was sublime, and he made a number of other telling passes from deep as well.
MC) Wilfred Kaptoum – 6/10 (Gambau – 61′)
Making his Champions League debut for Barcelona, the 19-year-old was solid if unspectacular in the middle. He allowed his team-mates to do the fancy work but passed simply, and put in some nice challenges on the excellent Calhanoglu.
AMR) Lionel Messi – 8/10
The only ‘superstar’ on the pitch, Messi patrolled the right flank, often just standing in space waiting for someone to pass the ball to him. He linked up best with Rakitic, who laid him through on goal beautifully for the opener. Elsewhere, Messi completed countless dribbles, and despite not being at his otherworldly best, was still the top player on the park.
AML) Munir – 6/10
Hardly featured in the front-three, and naturally, Barca were far less dangerous without Suarez and Neymar up top. Munir gave the ball away too many times and didn’t offer himself in behind the German defence either.
FC) Sandro – 5/10
Anonymous. Sandro’s talented, but he failed to show it in what was a dead rubber for the visitors.
Gambua – 5/10 – Didn’t do anything to suggest he’ll make the grade.
Camara – n/a