opinions | 2017-03-20
Player Ratings - La Liga Round 28 - Barcelona 4:2 Valencia
Messi and Neymar lead the way in a difficult clash
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (7): Another good game. On both goals nothing he could do. He did well just before the first goal to prevent Munir from scoring. The saves he made were very important ones which could’ve changed the contest. Defence was poor which cost him his clean sheet. Passing was fine. Nothing else to say really, had a really quiet 2nd half.
Javier Mascherano (6): Looked a bit shaky early on as Valencia attacked and often caused trouble down his side. Barça’s back 3 played high up the pitch and he had problems defending all that space left behind him, and the fact that Rakitić and Rafinha on the right side weren’t good on the day didn’t help him. However, not everything was bad as he passed well out the back, completed 91% of his passes, the highlight being his great assist to Messi who made it 3-2. Hit and miss performance, surprisingly good on the ball but could’ve done better defensively.
Gerard Piqué (6.5): Not the greatest game but it wasn’t bad at all because he had to do a lot of covering for Mascherano which made him look worse than he was, chasing fast wingers didn’t end too well. On the ball he was brilliant, barely misplaced a pass and was always picking the right options. We played a higher line than usual, it allowed Munir to get many 1v1’s against him and he did well. On the goals, nothing he could do really. Defensively he was nearly as good as Umtiti but the defensive line by the halfway line made it seem like he defended worse than he actually did. Let’s hope he can stay healthy during international duty because April is going to be a vital month.
Samuel Umtiti (7): Passed really well, played a wonderful vertical pass to Suárez but Messi couldn’t put the finishing touch on it. Him playing in a back 3 with Neymar and Iniesta in front has really got more out of him which is somewhat unimaginable since the form he’s been on this season. Defended well. Valencia had more success down Mascherano’s side because we defended in big spaces, Umtiti can cover the spaces and Mascherano couldn’t. Another game, another top performance for him.
Sergio Busquets (6.5): Positioned a bit higher up the pitch than usual as Barça faced a Valencia team that sat deep and played with 10 men for the majority of this match. Passed the ball well for the most part as Barça faced no problems controlling the match, especially in the 2nd half where he had too much time and space with the ball. Defensively, he’s done well but he was left with too much space to defend at times in the 1st half. A quiet game for him but he’s done his job well.
Ivan Rakitić (5): Average performance for the Croatian international. Passing was good but his decision making in the final third should’ve been better. Defensively, he wasn’t good which came as a surprise because that’s where he usually shines. Poor marking on Valencia’s 1st goal and Mangala had it easy. On their 2nd goal, he allowed easy run from Gaya in behind him and Valencia punished yet again. Other than that he didn’t do much and he was subbed off after 65 minutes. A game to forget.
Andres Iniesta (7.5): One of our best players, it was like his pre-injury form. Got the ball a lot, sometimes not in great positions but he was trying to make things happen which we haven’t seen in weeks. Efficient again when it came to tackling. Valencia struggled to get close to him. He managed to create 3 chances but this was aided by Valencia being a man down. I’m pleased with what he showed, it seems like he’s finally got rid of the rust that his injury left. Let’s hope he avoids injuries during the international break.
Lionel Messi (9): Amazing performance for the best player in the world. Started the game missing an easy tap-in after Suárez did most of the work. Created a lot.for his teammates as he had too much space, especially after Valencia were down to 10. Converted a penalty to make it 2-1. Created a clear chance for Neymar who misses it at the start of the 2nd half, and soon after that he scored to make it 3-2 with a wonderful finish with his weaker foot. After that, he kept creating chance after chance for his teammates and it’s a miracle he finished this game without an assist to his name. It looked like he got the yellow card on purpose, so he’s missing the next Liga game.
Rafinha (5): Started in the RW position yet again and to put it lightly, he didn’t offer much. Surprisingly, he completed all of his passes which is good, but none of them were really creating danger in the final third. Hasn’t completed a single cross. He usually does well defensively but it wasn’t the case in this game and Valencia posed threat down Barça’s right side in the 1st half. He didn’t offer anything a winger should in a 3-4-3 formation and that right side remains the biggest problem for Lucho this season. Subbed off after 74 minutes.
Luis Suárez (7): Fantastic 1st half, he was involved in everything Barça created. Unselfish early on even when he could’ve finished the moves himself, he was looking for his teammates in the box. Scored Barça’s 1st goal with a spectacular curling finish after Neymar’s smartly taken throw in. Great movement and a run in behind Mangala who had to take him down in the box and also picked up his 2nd yellow card. Wasn’t as involved in the 2nd half but he still had an easy sitter he missed, should’ve done better on that play. Great performance all around.
Neymar (7.5): Another great display. It is unfortunate that he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet. He did have the chances, most notably the FK but made an absolute mess of them. On the equalizer, his work was great. The throw-in caught all the Valencia players out. On the 4th goal, he was fantastic again, taking 2 Valencia players out of the game with his pace and then a nice back pass to Gomes who got his first Barcelona goal. My criticism of him was that he got plenty of the ball but wasted it many times. Could’ve easily had 3 assists and 3 goals if he was more decisive and clinical. His link up play was great, this has been a noticeable difference since the system change. I’m really happy with what he has shown since the start of 2017 but he needs to be more clinical in front of goal.
Sergi Roberto: Came on in the last 25 minutes of the match and played in Rakitić’s role. Passed the ball well for the most part and managed 1 key pass. Did well defensively on a rare occasion when Valencia tried to attack. Solid minutes off the bench after Rakitić’s poor performance.
André Gomes: Subbed on for the last 15 minutes. Early on it was obvious his confidence was low, commited a foul in a dangerous area which Valencia luckily couldn’t take advantage of. Right after that, he found himself in a good chance inside the box but opted for pass instead which was a wrong decision. Thankfully, he managed to score an easy tap-in after a great run from Neymar. This goal should do wonders for his confidence which was obviously low so far, and the crowd booing him didn’t help either.
Referee Alejandro Hernandez (6): Solid showing from the ref. The only questionable big decision was a possible penalty on Neymar early on but he decided the contact wasn’t enough for a penalty. He was consistent with his fouls and bookings but perhaps should’ve protected Neymar better. The penalty he gave and a sending off was a correct decision as Mangala was already on a yellow.
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.