opinions | 2017-01-12
Spanish Cup Last 16 - Player Ratings - Barcelona 3:1 Athletic Bilbao
Messi and Neymar put on a show to reach the quarterfinals
Jasper Cillessen (6): Not really troubled, took too long on the ball allowing Athletic to close down passing lanes. Needed to be quicker as Athletic were all over the place today. Distribution on and off in the first half. On the goal I don’t think there was much he could do. It was the only chance Athletic had all game so it was a quiet night for the Dutchman.
Sergi Roberto (4.5): Very poor, probably the worst Barça player on the pitch. Not involved going forward, and Barça looked rather poor and toothless down the right side. Defensively, he started well but got worse as the game went on. Should’ve done much better on the goal, not aware of Saborit’s movement behind him. Perhaps Alba should’ve done better before the cross was even made, but still a cheap goal to concede. He’s going through a difficult spell at the moment and I don’t like being too harsh on him because he isn’t a fullback naturally, but he should be doing better. It will be interesting to see if Lucho will give Vidal a chance anytime soon.
Gerard Piqué (7): Back to his best today. Athletic didn’t create much in this game but he didn’t put a foot wrong and was rock solid defensively. Aduriz never caused him and Umtiti too many problems when he came on in the second half. Nothing he could do on the goal, poor defending from both Alba and Sergi Roberto. Passing was great as per usual, including a couple of long passes.
Samuel Umtiti (6.5): Did well. His yellow was rather harsh since it was his first offence whereas, San Jose for example got away with 2 clear yellow offences and Iraizoz consistently time wasted until the 80th minute. Passing being good but the odd few mistakes due to positional errors from the team. Iñaki wasn’t too much of a problem to him, he was starved of service. Nothing he could on the Athletic goal. Aduriz didn’t really cause him any problems even when it came to aerial duels. On Neymar’s penalty, he played a wonderful long ball to set him on his way, it’ll go unnoticed due to the wonderful work Neymar did after receiving the pass. Perhaps it would’ve been nice if he scored and celebrated in Aduriz’s face but maybe that’s for another day.
Jordi Alba (5.5): Started off well and as the game went on his performance started declining. Always available on the left as a free option and was used quite a lot, especially by Iniesta. His final ball wasn’t the best but it is like this most days. Unlike Digne he was quick to get back when we lost the ball. He was alright in possession but nothing special. In the second half, this is where his performance started getting worse, he had a great chance to score but made a hash of it after taking it with his right foot and shooting right at Iraizoz. On Athletic’s goal, he got beat far too easy and should’ve seen what the Athletic player was going to do. Two rather average games for him against Athletic where he was part of the reason they scored 3 over the 2 games.
Sergio Busquets (7): One of the best players on the pitch. Weird enough, his passing wasn’t as good as it usually is, but he was involved in the buildup and put in a strong performance defensively, especially in the second half. Always seemed to be on the right place at the right time and won most of the duels against Athletic’s midfielders today. His biggest mistake today came after he wanted to get rid of the ball inside the box, but passed it straight into one of Athletic’s players on the edge of the box. Luckily, nothing came of it. Good to see him perform well for the last month or so, let’s hope it will stay that way.
Rafinha (6): Started as a RCM and did well for the most part, even though right side of the pitch was almost non-existent going forward today and he attempted just 35 passes, while Iniesta for example attempted 70. Didn’t make many mistakes but didn’t take many risks on the ball, which is something we keep saying often for everyone playing on that RCM position this season. He often drifted wide and did provide energy needed though. Subbed off in the 80th minute.
Andres Iniesta (7): A lot better than what he was in the first leg. For starters he didn’t misplace passes and lose the ball in dangerous places. This possibly was due to Athletic’s changed gameplan which ultimately failed. The Athletic players couldn’t get near him, he dribbled past them as if they were training cones. He seemed to use Alba a lot more than usual which was a good thing as he always was a free outlet. Normally, he plays it to Neymar or Busquets rather than using Alba, on that note, his link up play was excellent as we are use to seeing. Once again his defensive work was superb, he efficiently broke up play along with Neymar. Created 1/2 chances as he does but I don’t think he registered an assist. On the whole, it was back to normality for him, we’ll need him a lot in the coming weeks.
Lionel Messi (7.5): Once again the saviour for his team, even though we’ve seen better performances from him. Started off well and looked great on the ball but Athletic very sitting deep and defended well. Did extremely well in a small space against a few Athletic players in a move which eventually led to Barça’s opening goal. second half was perhaps more quiet for him, but he ended up scoring another brilliant free-kick to take his team to the next round. His 3rd free-kick in the the last 3 games, stunning record for the best player in the world.
Luis Suárez (7): Much better from the Uruguayan. Didn’t look as isolated up front and got into chances, involved in play. Applied pressure on Athletic’s backline and combined well with Messi and Neymar. Good movement inside the box to make it 1-0, but the goal was wrongly ruled offside. Wonderful volley on another Neymar assist, brilliant finish for the opening goal of the match. In the second half, he had another great chance to score but his shot went wide. It has become normal for him to score from impossible positions and miss the easier ones. Did well to create chances for his teammates as well. This was a much better performance, something we’ll need for the rest of the season.
Neymar (8): Excellent performance. His assist was a great pick but Suárez’s intelligence must be applauded too. His hold up play was good and didn’t do anything stupid but he was prone to holding the ball for too long at times. Caused Boveda and then Elustondo plenty of trouble when he got 1v1 against them. Right after the second half started, after a wonderful take down, he beat 2 Athletic defenders who made a stupid challenge which won us a penalty. I don’t like how he takes his penalties but today it worked and it was the least he deserved. Though he should’ve got another one after turning 2/3 players inside out in the box and then putting it onto the post. Seems to be getting better as the games go on, his 2017 has been wonderful. Let’s hope he can carry this on for a month at the very least. The goal will give him confidence to carry on moving forward.
Ivan Rakitić: Subbed on for Rafinha in the last 10 minutes of the match. There’s not much to say about his performance, but he worked well defensively when Barça had to defend their lead and had one key pass which led to nothing, sadly. It will be interesting to see how his future at Barça will look like, hopefully he can help the team in the rest of the season.
Denis Suárez: Came on for Neymar with 5 or so minutes left so he couldn’t really contribute much, he did however almost manage a goal where he should’ve done better after great work from Sergi and Luis Suárez.
Arda Turan: Came on with like 2 minutes left, honestly no idea why the sub was even used. Whenever he comes on you get the sense that the opposition could get a dangerous FK. Luckily it wasn’t the case today.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
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.