preview | 2018-01-26
Player Ratings - Spanish Cup Quarterfinals - Barcelona 2-1 Espanyol
Coutinho makes his debut as Messi leads the team to the semifinals
Jasper Cillessen (7): Barely had a save to make like in first leg. Largely untroubled for near enough all 90 minutes, barely recall a save he had to make. His distribution was good for the most part. Another clean sheet for him as he’s quite familiar with in the Copa.
Sergi Roberto (6.5): Moved back to RB position after doing well in midfield in the last game. Barely had anything to do defensively as Espanyol couldn’t create much. Going forward he did well, especially early on in the 1st half, combining nicely with Vidal on the right at times. Managed to create 1 goalscoring opportunity and passed the ball well for the most part.
Gerard Piqué (7.5): Didn’t put a foot wrong, but Espanyol barely caused any trouble throughout the game. Won most of his duels and reacted well at the back when needed. Passing was great once again.
Samuel Umtiti (9): On his return, he was impeccable. Passing really well which is a given for the Frenchman. Won near enough every aerial duel he was involved in and is already back to the commanding presence that he was earlier in the season. His presence has seemed to have a positive effect on Piqué. In the second half, he was largely untroubled bar some really good plays under pressure from Espanyol. Great to have the Frenchman back.
Jordi Alba (7): Played a good game once again. Good off the ball as he always is, on the ball he kept it simple. Espanyol couldn’t defend his off the ball movement, unluckily it didn’t lead directly to a goal. Almost got an assist but it was just wide from Messi and it was given offside I think. Not really put a foot wrong and got a really odd yellow card. Second half was quiet for the most part and late on he had a “coming together” with an Espanyol player. It looks soft but knowing Lahoz it was surprising it wasn’t given.
Sergio Busquets (7): Another solid performance. Barça dominated in the middle of the pitch from the very start and he was at the heart of it all. Passed the ball well, managed 2 key passes and always on the right place at the right time, with or without the ball. Knew exactly when to press and forced Espanyol players into mistakes. Second half was a bit more quiet but a solid performance all round.
Ivan Rakitić (7): Keeps doing well in his new role. Passing was great, very involved in the game and in the build-up. This is something we couldn’t even imagine last season. Should’ve had an assist to his name after a brilliant cross to Messi in the 2nd half. Did well defensively when needed even though Espanyol were rather poor going forward. Nice to see Valverde managed to turn it all around and make him useful this season.
Andres Iniesta (7): Had a really solid game. He was lucky to not come out of the game injured after taking some bad hits from the Espanyol. We don’t really expect much different from them. His passing and ability to play under pressure was top as it always is. He didn’t influence the game as much as we would’ve liked too but he went and did his job just fine. He was subbed off for Coutinho with around 25 mins to go.
Aleix Vidal (7): Was a surprise inclusion and justified it with a really good first half. Early on he got an assist with a really good cross. Passing was good in the first half but got worse as the game went on which was odd as we gained more control, he didn’t get the ball too much but wasn’t as wasteful as he normally is. The first half was probably some of his better minutes in a Barcelona shirt.
Lionel Messi (9): He was behind everything Barça created in the 1st half. Started the move for the 1st goal with a pass to Vidal. He kept running after the ball every time he got dispossessed and he didn’t stop until the ball was back at his feet. This is how he scored Barça’s 2nd goal of the match, great recovery and a bit of luck as his shot took a deflection. Espanyol players kept kicking him and went unpunished for the most part, but they couldn’t stop him, he kept dribbling with ease and making the difference all game. Could’ve scored more but luck wasn’t on his side as he hit the woodwork yet again.
Luis Suárez (7): Great start to the match, converted his first chance of the game to make it 1-0 after some great movement in the box. Tried getting involved but Espanyol defenders marked him well throughout the game while also getting away with some nasty challenges. He was lucky to survive this game without getting injured. Often received the ball with his back turned against the goal. Should’ve scored another goal but he couldn’t finish from close range and denied Coutinho his first assist in a Barça shirt.
Paulinho: The Brazilian replaced Vidal midway through the second half. He wasn’t too bad but wasn’t anything special. He picked a rather needless yellow card, no ref other than Lahoz would’ve booked him. He was better on the ball than usual but didn’t influence much.
Coutinho: Finally made his debut after his move from Liverpool and he was absolutely great. It looked like it is his 200th game for the club. He was so comfortable on the ball and didn’t play with any fear. One of the best debut performances for Barcelona I’ve seen is a very long time. He will only get better and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does when he’s fully settled.
André Gomes: Came on for Rakitić seconds before the end of the game. He didn’t do anything and this substitution was used to waste some time before the final whistle.
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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.