The out-of-favour winger was brought back in after his bright cameo at Atletico, but was substituted at half-time following the defender’s dismissal
Another night of frustration for Gerard Deulofeu. Since being brought back to Barcelona in the summer, the Spain international has found life tough at Camp Nou and he has recently been left out in the cold by coach Ernesto Valverde.
On Saturday, he was back with a point to prove and livened up Barca’s attack at the Wanda Metropolitano in a bright cameo as he helped the Catalan club come from behind to claim a point against Atletico Madrid.
That positive performance saw Deulofeu earn a rare start on Wednesday night for the visit of Olympiacos and the 23-year-old saw plenty of the ball in the early stages of the Champions League clash.
To start with, the former Everton winger appeared all too eager to please Lionel Messi, directing almost all of his passes into the path of the Argentine attacker. However, he settled down as the match wore on and began to look like the Deulofeu of old.
Albeit against an Olympiacos side that is easily the worst team in Group D, the Catalan created danger with some incisive runs and, as his confidence grew, he began to beat rival defenders with his dribbling skills.
On one such foray, it was his cross which was turned in by Dimitrios Nikolaou as Barca took the lead after 18 minutes. And, after that, there was a spring in the winger’s step. A weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
Unfortunately for him, his night was cut short when he was withdrawn at half-time with the Blaugrana down to 10 men following the ridiculous red card picked up by Gerard Pique for two bookable offences.
After earning a yellow for a tactical foul close to the halfway line as he hauled down an Olympiacos player to stop a counter-attack, Pique saw red when he looked to try and score with his hand just before the interval.
Replays did not show too much, but Pique had many complaints about the decision and it is the third time this season that the defender has been booked for using his hands to try and score.
Pique will now miss the trip to Olympiacos next month, but Barca should be able to manage without him in Greece, just as they did here as Messi and Lucas Digne made it a comfortable night at a rainy Camp Nou with fine strikes in the second half, before the visitors pulled back a goal late on.
The real loser, though, was Deulofeu. Just as he looked like taking his chance to shine, the winger saw his evening curtailed and he will be extremely upset. On this evidence, however, he at least deserves another opportunity soon.