opinions | 2017-02-02
Player Ratings - Spanish Cup Semifinals - Atletico Madrid 1:2 FC Barcelona
Messi and Suárez deliver a key win that puts Barça closer to the Spanish Cup final
Jasper Cillessen (6.5): Done well for the most part. He made one/two clutch saves which honestly should’ve been goals. On the second Barcelona goal, his long pass started the whole play off. At times his passing and decision making was dreadful, like when he threw the ball right to an Atleti player and that pass to Masche which almost cost a goal. To be honest, the second bad decision was more on Mascherano than him. On the goal he couldn’t do anything. Good game from the Dutchman but needs to be more concentrated in these big games.
Sergi Roberto (6): Good defensively in the 1st half. Going forward, he wasn’t involved a lot. Only attempted 1 cross and decision making and passing could’ve been better His main focus today was on the defensive aspect and he did well to control Saul and Carrasco in the 1st half but Rakitić helped a lot, it must be said. Completed 5 interceptions and 3 clearances which is a nice defensive contribution. However, it started getting worse in the 2nd half after Rakitić was subbed off and it looked like Atleti were penetrating through that side quite easily at times, but luckily they never scored the equaliser. Very quiet game going forward and he wasn’t convincing in the 2nd half.
Gerard Piqué (7): Solid performance once again. CB pairing with him and Umtiti has looked great yet again. Early on, he had a couple of good clearances and it looked like he was always there at the right place at the right time whenever Atleti got to the last third of the pitch. Confident on the ball, passed the ball well under pressure. Not much he could do on the goal, poorly defended set piece by the team just like in the last weekend’s match against Betis, even though it looked like Suárez was fouled on the play. Barça allowed Atleti lots of chances in the 2nd half, but it’s hard to blame him personally for any of those as the team lost control in the middle of the pitch. Completed 9 clearances in this game, which is a solid number. Once again the leader at the back and his partnership with Umtiti has looked great.
Samuel Umtiti (7): Very good once again. Crisp passing between the lines which our midfield were not doing, this allowed us to cause Atleti a lot of problems in the first half. What I’ve noticed is that his reading of the game and positioning is getting better. Defended very well, on the goal he couldn’t do too much. Defending in the air has been a weak point of his game, oddly enough he seemed to be very good against perhaps the best team in world when it comes to aerial duels. I didn’t really see much fault in his game. His partnership with Piqué is going from strength to strength which is what we expected but not at the rate it is. Really happy with him, he played one/two poor games recently but seems like he’s put that behind him.
Jordi Alba (6): Early on he wasn’t too good. He hadn’t done anything bad but nothing too good either. A lot like he has been for large parts of the past year and a bit. Passing has been good it has to be said. In the first half, he lost the ball in a dangerous position, luckily Atleti didn’t score. However, he did get better in the second half, defensively he wasn’t amazing but not poor. Midway in the second half, he made a wonderful last ditch tackle which he has been doing quite often lately. If he didn’t make the challenge the tide would’ve changed very quickly. I didn’t notice him too much in terms of attacking, we played a defensive game today which only worked for around 60 mins. Better than what he has shown v Atleti in previous games without any doubt but we expect better.
Javier Mascherano (6): Once again solid performance without the ball but not so good on the ball, something we’re used to seeing when he plays in a CDM position. Started off well with a great tackle/pass which led to Suárez goal. Even though Uruguayan striker did most of the work, the Argentine did well on the play. Doesn’t offer as much on the ball as Busquets and Barça rarely managed to control the match in the midfield area, especially in the 2nd half. Had a huge mistake that could’ve costed the team after Cillessen’s pass but luckily Atleti didn’t take advantage of it. Even though he did well defensively for the most part, he could’ve positioned himself better on the goal, Griezmann had it too easy. Had a couple of important clearances and tackles in the 2nd half. Personally, I prefer him as a CB in a Barça shirt and think he should only play there, but his commitment cannot be questioned wherever he plays.
Ivan Rakitić (6.5): One of the best performances this season for the Croatian international. Great without the ball, worked a lot defensively which also allowed Messi to shine and receive the ball more often in the 1st half, and also helped Sergi a lot to deal with Carrasco and Saul. On the ball, he was better than earlier this season even though he got dispossessed a few times and misplaced some easy passes, but that’s expected at this point as everyone is aware of his qualities and also his limits. Combined well with Messi at times and his pass before the goal officially counts as an assist, even though Messi did most of the work with a wonderful finish. He was subbed off early in the 2nd half which has proven to be a wrong decision as Barça lacked that energy defensively after he was subbed off. Solid performance, let’s hope he can build on this and keep getting better in the rest of the season after a slow start.
Andre Gomes (6): Not the best game for him, lost the ball a few times early on but got forward and back really well since the game for the most part was end to end. Defensively he was solid but he did lose the ball after winning it back too easily. Linking with Neymar well oddly as they have had problems understanding each other throughout the whole season. Passing was hit and miss but he has not been punished for it being somewhat inconsistent, this was the same with his touches. Some of them were pretty loose to say the least. How we set up isn’t the best way to maximise Andre’s abilities. Honestly, I don’t think this season performance wise will be great for him. He isn’t being utilised well but he himself has been rather inconsistent.
Lionel Messi (8.5): Wonderful performance for the best player in the world. Involved from the start, he created danger whenever he was on the ball. Fabulous passing throughout the game, seemed to have always picked the right pass at the right moment. Barça struggled to control the game in midfield and he was the creative force yet again. Spectacular finish from the edge of the box to make it 2-0. In the 2nd half, he wasn’t as much on the ball after Barça totally lost control of the game, but he still created Barça’s best chance, which Neymar failed to convert. His work rate defensively has been great throughout the game, tracked back and helped the team a lot when needed. He seems to hide all the flaws of the team in Busquets’ and Iniesta’s absence and that was the case yet again in this match.
Luis Suárez (7): Great start to the match, just what Barcelona needed. Dribbled past Savić like he wasn’t there and finished a wonderful move to make it 1-0. One of his best goals of the season, if not the best. That was his only shot on target as he wasn’t much involved later on after Barça lost control in midfield, but he combined well with Messi and Neymar in the 1st half. Had a chance to score his 2nd but decided to pass when the shot was a better option. Tracked back a lot and applied pressure to Atleti’s back 4. In the 2nd half, he was barely even on the ball. Perhaps he was fouled on the play when Atleti scored their only goal of the match, it was an obvious foul. The best striker in the world wasn’t involved too much which wasn’t his fault as the team struggled in midfield, but he scored a very important goal after a moment of individual brilliance and worked a lot without the ball.
Neymar (6.5): Another mixed game. First half was of a solid level, second half he fell off somewhat. On the ball he was pretty good. Atleti struggled to contain him at times. As per usual, he put in a shift in helping us out in defence, stats aren’t available for CdR games so I am not sure how many tackles he won. Passing was fairly good though he could’ve been more precise in the final third. His first half performance was pretty solid but his 2nd half was a lot like 2016 Neymar. Felt he was lucky to carry on past 45mins as he suffered a nasty hit from Koke which for me could’ve been a red card. After the interval, his performance was generally really bad, Barcelona also played a horrific half too. Had a golden chance after Messi beat 4 players. At the very least he should’ve put it on target. Picked up a stupid booking which now means he will not play the return leg. Let’s hope this isn’t too costly. It’ll be nice for him to get a break but maybe this wasn’t the best game to be suspended for.
Denis Suárez: Subbed on for Rakitić in the last 30 minutes of the match and in theory, this should’ve helped the team gain more control in midfield but it didn’t work that way as Barça completely lost control of the game at that point. He was rarely on the ball and only attempted 14 passes. Usually he’s a danger going forward but in this match he was anonymous. It’s hard to blame him personally as Barça played without Busquets and Iniesta in this game which clearly affected us when it comes to controlling the match and fundamentals weren’t there. Defensively he did well at times but Rakitić’s work without the ball was missing in that 2nd half.
Rafinha: Finally came back from injury and he replaced Gomes midway through the 2nd half. The impact he had was very good. His fearless way of dribbling allowed us to get a few chances on goal when we were struggling to hold our ground. Defensively he played a solid part. His willingness to get back helped keep the Atleti onslaught to a few dangerous shots. Nice to have him back. Look forward to seeing him more.
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WRITTEN BY: Josip
23 years old, born in Split, Croatia. Football fanatic and a die-hard Barça fan. Currently studying tourism and communication.
WRITTEN BY: Sulaiman
Sulaiman is a Barcelona fan since 2005. He loves discussing anything related to the club. Sulaiman is currently studying Accounting and Finance and has a keen interest in Statistics.