opinions | 2017-01-06
Player Ratings - Spanish Cup Last 16 - Athletic Bilbao 2:1 Barcelona
Neymar stands out as the top performer in a frustrating defeat
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (6): Didn’t have much to do in terms of saving, he was heavily involved in build up today, mostly in the first half though. His long balls today weren’t the best, our midfield and MSN being short had a part to play in this. On both goals he couldn’t do too much about them. On the whole, though it was such a crazy game, he didn’t have much to do for the second 45 minutes of the game.
Sergi Roberto (6): Took up good positions in the first half and did well to get into dangerous areas but his crosses and decision making were poor, just like Alba’s on the other side. Defensively, he didn’t react well under Athletic’s pressure but it’s hard to blame him for the loss. Passing has been good even though Rakitić wasn’t very active on the ball on his right side of the pitch. Got better in the second half after Gomes came on and started taking more risks. His decision making in the final third has been the biggest concern in most of the games this season.
Gerard Piqué (6): Not one of his best games, but he had a few good interceptions and did well on the ball under Athletic’s pressure for the most part. Could’ve had a penalty after he was fouled by Iraizoz inside the box, but the referee decided not to give it. He often moved forward in the second half, especially when Athletic were down to 9, but Barça couldn’t capitalise on it. He didn’t put a foot wrong but also never did anything outstanding.
Samuel Umtiti (6.5): Had an eventful game to say the least. Defensively he was solid, intercepting the ball high up the pitch quite often, like Mascherano, this is one of the strong points of his game. On both goals, he couldn’t do too much. Firstly, he should’ve been the one tracking Aduriz rather than Alba who said for Umtiti to go wide. On the second goal, he was possibly too tight to Aduriz who played in Iñaki Williams, after another blunder from Alba.
Late into the first half, he was punched in the throat by Aduriz who was very very lucky that neither the ref or linesman saw it. Thankfully, he recovered from it. He settled in the second half, his passing became more consistent though he was still targeted like in the first half by the Athletic players. Subbed off late into the second half. He is getting by the game and today was arguably his hardest considering what happened.
Jordi Alba (4): Absolutely dreadful, reminded me of 2015/16 Alba again. We were in control of the game for most of the 90 minutes and he got into good attacking positions but just like last season, his decision making was dire to put it lightly. Had a chance to get 1/2 assists but his reluctance in the final third allowed Athletic players to get back into position. Defensively he was alright at times but for me, he was to blame for both of the goals.
On the first one he told Umtiti to go wide when he should’ve but decided to jog back rather than chase down the runner into the box, he also let Aduriz get in front of him and we know who would win an aerial duel. The second goal was a carbon copy of Griezmann’s first goal in the CL against us. Passed it to an Athletic player and because our team didn’t have time to get in position from a mistake so quick after a throw in, Athletic scored again.
Sergio Busquets (6): Great start to the game, did really well under pressure and passed the ball with ease. Had a few great passes between the lines to start the danger but Barça couldn’t score and got punished later on. He wasn’t on the ball as often in the second half as Barça looked to get the ball to front three as soon as possible. Misplaced a couple of passes he usually doesn’t. Defensively, he did well, won most of duels with Athletic’s midfielders.
Ivan Rakitić (5): Nothing seems to be going well for the Croatian midfielder this season. We saw more of the same today, couldn’t do much when he was on the ball and his only impact was his work-rate defensively in the first half, but you expect more of a player who starts in midfield for Barcelona. Drifted wide quite often and wasn’t involved much in the buildup. It’s clear Dani leaving affected him because the Brazilian was the creative force on that right side with Messi. Here’s hoping things will change soon, otherwise I don’t see him getting much playing time.
Andres Iniesta (6): Not the best. Passing was off, normally he doesn’t misplace more than 5/6 passes, today it was double that. On the first goal, he lost the ball after taking too much time. Pretty uncharacteristic, as normally he doesn’t lose balls in dangerous positions. His defensive game once again was solid, 6 ball recoveries and 2 tackles is roughly what he manages in a good match. As the team got better in the second half, so did he but regardless of this, it is a game to move on from quickly for the magician. Let’s hope he can shake off this rust and put on a show like he did all throughout December.
Lionel Messi (6.5): Decision making was surprisingly bad at times, which is something that almost never happens to the Argentine. Could’ve easily scored two more if he decided to shoot but he went for an extra touch. But even with all that considered, he was behind most of the chances Barça created today. Had a few beautiful passes to Alba whose decision making has been horrible. Scored a beautiful free-kick that will mean a lot going into the second leg.
Luis Suárez (5.5): Another frustrating performance for him. Never got into clear chances to score but he got involved and had a couple of good moves to create chances for his teammates. The best one was probably his dummy in the first half that fooled entire Athletic’s backline, but Messi should’ve done better. He pressed Athletic’s back 4 well, just like he usually does. He looked a bit isolated in the second half, which happens often this season. Only had a shot, zero on target.
Neymar (8): Absolutely brilliant. Started off a bit slow and passing was rusty but this was expected after barely playing for 20 days. Should’ve gotten a penalty at the end of the first half, no idea why it wasn’t given as there was clear contact. Almost managed to get an assist but Messi hesitated and his shot was blocked. Completed 6 out 11 dribbles but he was direct and didn’t hold onto the ball for so long. Boveda had so much difficulty dealing with him so in the end he was double marked.
He managed to get Itturaspe sent off after beating him in a 1v1 and a stupid challenge from the Basque midfielder. The defensive work was impeccable, won 2 tackles and made 5 ball recoveries, all were in our half of the pitch which is unusual though his work rate is pretty good most games. This for me was the most underrated part of his performance. Let’s hope he can carry on performing like this because it was better than every performance he put in for us the whole of 2016.
André Gomes: Replaced Rakitić in 71st minute. With him on the pitch, Sergi started getting more involved in the second half and took more risks, but this was also due to Athletic being down to 10, and later 9 men. Only attempted 8 passes, and completed 5 of those. He did alright considering Athletic were overly aggressive and Rakitić seemed to struggle with this.
Paco Alcacer: Paco came on for Umtiti with 5 or so minutes left. The only thing he did was put the ball wide in the last min of the game after Messi hit the post. If i was to be critical then I’d say that he should’ve taken the shot with his right foot rather than left. But it is hard to criticise him considering how difficult it is to think that quickly.
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.