opinions | 2017-02-08
Player Ratings - Spanish Cup Semifinals - Barcelona 1:1 Atlético Madrid
Suárez and Messi save the day as Barça stumbles to reach the final
Jasper Cillessen (7.5): Wonderful performance, arguably the MOTM. His passing was very good, barely made any wayward passes even though Atleti pressed very well. Saved us a lot in the first half, where we were absolutely dominated. The Carrasco save was the pick of the lot for me, it was literally a guaranteed goal. Reminded me of Neymar’s miss against Real Madrid this season. We should’ve been 3-1 down after the first half if it wasn’t for him. On the goal there was nothing to do, it was poor play from Piqué. He’s done a good job this season, his work has been rewarded with a starting spot in the CdR final.
Sergi Roberto (4): A game he’ll want to forget quickly. Looked shaky from the start, Atleti were dangerous on wide positions and he struggled to defend against that. His passing was fine but he didn’t make many forward passes which started something for his team going forward, I can only remember like 2 of those. Picked up his 1st yellow card in the 19th minute trying to stop Atleti’s counter attack. Near the end of the 1st half, he got warned by the ref after he fouled one of Atleti’s players and it was clear he should’ve been more careful in the 2nd half. Sadly, it didn’t happen and he was rightly sent off in 57th minute after another unnecessary foul. He put his team in a lot of trouble and should learn from this match.
Gerard Piqué (6): Not the greatest of performances for him. He looked comfortable and good on the ball, completed 93% of his passes, including 13/13 long passes he attempted. His positioning was questionable at times and didn’t always react the best when Atleti were in the final third of the pitch. Played Griezmann onside when Atleti got their goal disallowed, which was a wrong decision. Later on, Gameiro ran past him inside the box, the Spaniard threw himself for the ball but the ref awarded Atleti a penalty. Perhaps a strict decision, but he could’ve done better earlier to avoid that situation. Should’ve done a lot better on the Atletico goal, his mishit led to an easy tap-in for Gameiro. Completed some great clearances and was solid in the air when Barça were sitting deep in the last 10 minutes of the game. Completed 14 clearances in total in this match, which is an impressive number. Hot and cold performance and prone to mistakes which wasn’t the case for the most part this season.
Samuel Umtiti (7.5): Absolutely wonderful from the Frenchman. Very composed on the ball especially in the first half when Atleti gave us plenty of problems. One of his mistakes with Gomes almost cost a goal but Alba sweeped up. Dealt with Griezmann well, the BdO finalist had few chances. Made some very vital blocks, especially the one right at the end of the game. Perhaps this was the best defensive performance he has put in so far and it was needed. On multiple occasions his vertical passing got us out of trouble. This weapon has been so useful compared to what we had last season. He managed to not get booked in such a fiery game which now means he is eligible to play the final. Our best defender against this difficult Atleti side and deserves all the plaudits he is getting.
Jordi Alba (6): Made a great recovery after a Gomes blunder. On the ball he looked suspect at times but is done well defensively. Held up against the strong Atleti attack in the first half surprisingly. He’s improved in this aspect compared to last April, it may not be a big improvement it must be said. Didn’t really help too much in the final third as the team have barely made it there. In the second half he fell off a bit, Atleti were getting a fair amount of space down his side after Sergi Roberto got sent off. It didn’t help that the only person helping him (Denis) was subbed off. In the end he held out and didn’t make any big mistakes. A sufficient performance from the error prone fullback. Onto the final we go, with him able to play as he miraculously avoided getting booked today.
Andre Gomes (7): Had a pretty solid game. Perhaps our best player in the first half. His line breaking pass for the goal was key and may go unnoticed because Messi did some amazing work after. Looked composed on the ball though had some giveaways. In the first half, it was as if we were playing 4-1-3 with him being our only midfielder on the pitch. Passing was pretty consistent, he’s been prone to giving quite a few wayward passes but it was different this time. Made a blunder which could’ve proved costly but Alba cleaned up for him. When he was allowed time on the ball, he dictated pretty well and played some dangerous passes which Busquets does often. When we tried to build from the back, his positioning was good compared to other games, this allowed us to beat the Atleti press at times. Playing at DM seems to be his most comfortable position but for me he needs to play higher and to be taught how to control matches. Only then we will see completely what he is about but he played a fine game nonetheless.
Ivan Rakitić (5): Slow start, just like the rest of the team. Didn’t look comfortable on the ball at all, and struggling under pressure. Usually he makes up for it defensively, but this wasn’t a memorable performance in that aspect. Helped Sergi in the 1st half but nothing to write home about in general. Passing was fine at times, but he misplaced some easy ones, especially when he was under pressure. Didn’t complete any of his crosses today. He looked frustrated and this resulted in a yellow card he received after arguing with a ref in the 2nd half. This isn’t something we usually see from him. The Croatian international will have to do a lot better to keep his starting spot in the team for the rest of the season.
Denis Suárez (5.5): Very poor in the 1st half. Rarely on the ball and even when he received the pass, he didn’t seem to make the right decision under pressure. Usually he plays on the right side of the midfield but this time he played on the left and this didn’t work out. Didn’t have the usual connection with Messi and it looked like he didn’t have the best understanding with Arda on the left. Only started showing signs of improvement at the start of the 2nd half when he combined well with Alba a couple of times but that quickly disappeared after Sergi’s red card and he was subbed off for Mascherano soon after that. Let’s hope he can put this behind him and we’ll see more from him in the coming weeks.
Lionel Messi (7): Wasn’t on the ball as often as we all wanted, Barça again struggled in the middle of the pitch, especially early on in the game and he had to drop deep at times. Most of the time when he was on the ball in the 1st half, he seemed to have received the ball surrounded with a few Atleti players so he didn’t have many options. However, this didn’t stop him from creating Barça’s only goal in this match. Gomes did well to get the ball to him, he dribbled past few players with ease and attempted a shot that was barely saved by Moya, but Suárez was there on the rebound to make it 1-0. Defensively, he looked cautious and didn’t want to risk anything as a yellow card would mean he’d miss the final. Wonderful free-kick in the 2nd half but his shot hit the bar, unfortunately. Would’ve been one of the best FKs he ever scored. Not the best of the performances as he wasn’t on the ball for too long, but still created our only goal.
Luis Suárez (6.5): Looked isolated early on, Barça were forced to defend deep for the most part and Atleti were looking for goals. However, he still scored Barça’s only goal in the game after Messi did most of the work, but his movement was smart to avoid offside and he was there on the rebound. He worked a lot without the ball and pressed Atleti’s defenders when they were on the ball and this forced them into mistakes a few times. Passing was fine but could’ve been better and he chose the wrong pass a couple of times. It would’ve been a job well done if it wasn’t for what happened in the last few minutes of the match when he picked up 2 yellow cards. I personally felt both cards were too soft for a game like this, but there’s nothing that can be done about it and he will miss the Copa del Rey final.
Arda Turan (6): Not the best performance for him. Barely saw much of the ball. When he did, he was good but it was far and few between. Not had too much influence in helping with getting the ball back, it seemed like especially in the first half that he stayed high to be a long ball outlet so we could hit a quick break. When he did get it, he was isolated on left because everyone was so deep. Dribbling was solid for the most part. He was more of a bystander compared to other games he’s played at LW. This game plan does not suit him at all. He was replaced by Sergio with 20/25 mins to go. Another final for the Turk, he’s put some decent performances in but this one he has to put behind him.
Javier Mascherano: Replaced Denis in 62nd minute after Sergi Roberto was sent off. He played in a RB position which is unusual for him. Going forward, he obviously didn’t add a lot given the fact he’s a defensive minded player and Barça sat deep to defend the lead. Defensively, looked shaky at times as RB isn’t his natural position and Atleti were dangerous out wide, but he had a couple of clearances in the last 10 minutes of the game. He picked up an injury during game and the latest reports say he’ll be out for 2-3 weeks.Not the role he had in mind going into this match but the Argentine did as much as he could and Barça qualified to yet another cup final. Hopefully he comes back from his injury soon.
Sergio Busquets: Returned from injury replacing Arda Turan with 20 minutes left. By this time we were on the backfoot but his presence settled us down slightly as well as Carrasco just got his marching order from the ref. He looked at home, passed the ball really well especially to break lines. Most of his work was defending set pieces which he did great at. However, he did pick up a stupid yellow late on, but on rewatching footage of the incident there was already a ball on the pitch so he was getting rid of the second ball.
Andres Iniesta: Came back from his injury and subbed on for the last 20 minutes of the game, receiving a standing ovation from the Camp Nou crowd. However, this substitution didn’t have the effect we were all hoping for, as Barça continued to suffer and didn’t gain control in the middle of the pitch. Only attempted 3 passes, and that says a lot. The only memorable moment was when he dribbled past 2 or 3 Atleti players in a small space with ease. Nonetheless, it’s great to have him back and this will mean a lot in the coming weeks. Here’s hoping he can get back to his best level as soon as possible after that injury.
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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.