Victor Valdes 8.0
Sure, the Spaniard did not have much to do, but when called upon he was superb. Flying off his line to deny Plzen a great one-on-one opportunity with his unbeaten record on the line, it was a fine save, and who knows? Maybe the game could have turned out differently. After claiming a club record Valdes will be happy, and I’m sure Pep was delighted at his performance.
Dani Alves Yellow 6.5
A solid game from the Brazilian. He didn’t venture forward as much as normal, but supported Cuenca well. His silly booking rules him out of the big game at the San Siro, but with FC Barcelona qualified, it should not matter too much.
Carles Puyol 6.5
It was nice to see our captain complete the 90 minutes. Considering his recent return from injury he will be pleased with his performance, but knows he needs to improve to take his place back from Javier Mascherano.
Gerard Pique 7.5
How I have missed Gerard Pique. So assured in possession, whether it is by the corner flag, doing some ball juggling to hold off a couple of challenges, or in the opposition’s half, playing a defense splitting back-heel to Lionel Messi. Barcelona will need him at his best on Sunday, and this was a good 90 minutes.
Eric Abidal 6.5
In truth, I did not see the Frenchman an awful lot in the game. With Adriano ahead of him on the left-hand side Abidal did not venture forward as often as normal, but if this was him conserving energy, I don’t suppose it matters. Nice to see him on the Ballon D’Or shortlist as well.
Sergio Busquets 7.0
Yet again Sergio recycled the ball and was key to Barcelona’s tempo. Once again he was substituted, and once again the tempo dropped in his absence. A key figure in Barcelona’s midfield, though in truth he did not have too much to do last night, but what he did was good.
Thiago Alcantara 7.5
Thiago does not get involved as Messi does for instance, but to truly appreciate him, one must take a glance at the statistics. Just like Xavi, he covers the most ground in a match. The heatmap of his movements showed just how much he strays from position, looking to pick up possession and distribute it to the front men. Just a shame his header cannoned off the bar.
Cesc Fabregas 7.5
Fabregas sure set the bar high with his start to the season, and naturally, he has slowed down a little. Like Thiago he was covering a lot of ground, though he was not as involved as his comrade. His goal was well taken, and he did well very well to ghost into position and meet Cuenca’s cross.
Isaac Cuenca 8.5
Have I mentioned how much I love this guy? Cuenca was in imperious form again, giving the Plzen defense a torrid time, despite the hostile atmosphere. His delivery was superb for Cesc’s header, and a particular moment stood out for me on the 62nd minute. Cuenca is a skilful player, and he exhibited it brilliantly by twisting and turning a couple of challenges inside the penalty area. Pep says that he will stay with the first team, though it is a no-brainer.
Not as good as he was on Saturday, but the Brazilian has come of age in a Blaugrana shirt. I sound like a broken record but his crosses were excellent again, and as a winger he offers that something David Villa can’t. That’s a story for another day...
Lionel Messi 9.0 MOTM
No doubt this time, Lionel Messi walked away with the MOTM award. His hat-trick was great, but more importantly for me and Guardiola, he was better all-round. Passes were connecting, and his dribbling was also better. Not only that, but his movement was in full view for all to see. Simply sublime, it boggles the mind to think that he is just 24(!?!?!?!)
Nothing personal, but he did not have anything to do in his time on the pitch. It would be unfair to berate him for that.
Seydou Keita 5.5
Like Maxwell he did not have the opportunity to do an awful lot, but in my opinion, when replacing Sergio Busquets, you simply have to get involved. Busi always offers himself as an option when in possession, Keita does not, and it is baffling that Pep still plays him as a defensive midfielder.
Alexis Sanchez 7.5
The Chilean made a triumphant return from injury with his cameo yesterday. Connected well with Messi and was unlucky not to score in his short time back. With Cuenca’s rise, it is fortunate that Pedro is injured...
Viktoria Plzen 7.0
Playing with 10 men against FC Barcelona is not easy. They started brightly, and even threatened Victor Valdes, something we couldn’t say for Atletico Madrid, Mallorca and just about every other La Liga opponent. I wish them luck in their quest to qualify for the Europa League, but feel BATE have that covered.
Sorry for the delay in posting these, and feel free to disagree again. That being said, I have tried to be a little fairer with my ratings this time.