With one eye on the Champions League second leg against Manchester United, Ernesto Valverde used the match against Huesca to give first team debuts to Jean-Clair Todibo and Moussa Wague. In a much-changed XI, Riqui Puig and Jeison Murillo were also handed their first La Liga starts.
Huesca, rooted to the foot of the Spanish top flight, started the game on the front foot and were roared on by a capacity El Alcoraz that was bathed in sunshine. However, it was Barça who had the first presentable chance, Ousmane Dembélé going close on the quarter hour after a sensational defence-splitting pass from Puig.
A congested midfield made incisive play centrally almost impossible. As a consequence, both teams looked to play the ball down the wings at every opportunity, and with varying degrees of success.
Dembélé was particularly lively on his return from injury with the visitors’ new-look defence comfortable for the most part. Despite 80 percent possession in the first 45, the Blaugrana couldn’t find a way through and it meant reaching half-time at 0-0.
It was the Frenchman, again, who almost opened the scoring on 55, his left-foot effort taking a deflection on the way to goal. From the resulting corner, a smart move saw Malcom hit the post with a searing drive. That appeared to spark Barça further into life and Huesca found it difficult to get out of their own half at times.
A double substitution on 66 saw Dembélé and Puig replaced by Alba and Coutinho, as Valverde looked to exert extra pressure on the hosts in the final stretch of the game.
Arthur’s entrance for Aleñá was a like-for-like swap in the Barça midfield, allowing the visitors to keep control for the most part but with goal scoring chances few and far between.
Wague’s excellent challenge late in the match ensured that Huesca’s best opportunity was snuffed out, and that was the last meaningful attack from either side.
FT: 0 – 0