UEFA Champions League: SL Benfica 0-2 FC Barcelona: Player Ratings

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A Player-by-player breakdown of Barcelona's impressive 2-0 UEFA Champions League win over Benfica at the Estadio da Luz

Victor Valdes 8.0
Minutes played90
Touches40
Passes22
Pass Accuracy82%
Shots Faced7
Saves Made7

Arron says7.5

Valdés put in an excellent performance on Tuesday; one that will fill him with confidence heading into the Clasico. It may only have been his third clean sheet of the season, but it was well-deserved considering that the Catalan made a number of quality saves to keep Benfica at bay. While it’s true that many of Benfica’s shots favoured power over precision, Valdés still had to make the saves – something he did very well.

Dani Alves 7.0
Minutes played90
Touches103
Passes83
Pass Accuracy92%
Key Passes0
Tackles3
Interceptions0
Turnovers0
Fouls Won3

Arron says7.0

A huge improvement from the Brazilian, who bounced back from his sub-standard performance against Sevilla with a solid night against Benfica on Tuesday. His passing was better, he committed fewer turnovers and he also did his fair share of the defensive work with a number of good tackles.

Carles Puyol 8.2
Minutes played78
Touches86
Passes79
Pass Accuracy97%
Tackles1
Interceptions0
Clearances5

Arron says7.5

Well, what can you say about Carles Puyol other than that he’s an incredibly unlucky guy? In his first match back from a knee injury, Puyol landed heavily on his arm after leaping for a header, dislocating his elbow in the process. It’s his third injury of the season, although two of those injuries have been freakish accidents – who else fractures their cheekbone in a match, and who else dislocates their elbow? Even the knee injury was unlucky (in my opinion anyway), so it’s nothing to do with how injury-prone he has become, nor is it anything to do with Tito Vilanova’s management. Typically, his injury came after 78 minutes of solid defensive work – get well soon Puyi!

Javier Mascherano 7.2
Minutes played90
Touches124
Passes114
Pass Accuracy92%
Tackles1
Interceptions3
Clearances3

Arron says7.0

An intelligent performance from the Argentine, who made the joint-highest number of interceptions from his position in central defense. Whether this means that Mascherano is good enough at reading the game to make up for Song’s questionable positioning remains to be seen, but it’s a sign that Mascherano is starting to improve as a defensive leader. Not only that, but with Carles Puyol in the side as cover, it allows El Jeficito to move into midfield more often to help dictate the game – as his passing total suggests. Just a shame that Puyol’s ruled out until December...

Jordi Alba 7.8
Minutes played90
Touches103
Passes82
Pass Accuracy95%
Key Passes1
Tackles2
Interceptions2
Turnovers0
Clearances2

Arron says7.5

At the start of the season, we were all remarking about how brilliant Jordi Alba was and how quickly he had settled into the Barcelona system. Then he made one mistake, Adriano took his place and scored a couple of goals. All of a sudden, the Brazilian was the undisputed number one at left-back, but now Jordi Alba has recovered from the flu, we have been reminded of the Spaniard’s talents, with Tuesday’s match further proof of his immense potential. He was excellent at the back, won fouls for his teammates and created the odd chance as well. Will he start the Clasico? I think it’s touch-and-go at this stage, but either way, left-back is looking one of our strongest positions.

Sergio Busquets 7.2
Minutes played88
Touches154
Passes143
Pass Accuracy96%
Tackles6
Interceptions3
Fouls Won4
Key Passes0

Arron says8.5

Busquets dominated the midfield alongside his usual partner in crime, Xavi Hernández, making over 140 passes, but also contributing with the highest number of tackles. Busi also made the joint-highest number of interceptions, boasted an incredibly high pass completion rate and he also won four fouls (another team-high). Normally, he would lose marks for the red card, but I still cannot quite fathom why the referee made the decision he did.

Cesc Fàbregas 8.3
Minutes played72
Touches81
Passes69
Pass Accuracy91%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Tackles3
Clearances2
Turnovers4
Key Passes0

Arron says7.5

It was another good performance and clear indication – as if Saturday’s brace was not enough – that he has rediscovered his shooting boots. Those goals bring confidence, and this confidence brings general good play. His link-up play looks "crisper" if there is such a word; while he was brutally clinical in front of goal (one shots, one goal). The only worry is that he commits more turnovers than Andrés Iniesta, but can you leave him out after two great performances?

Xavi Hernández 7.6
Minutes played90
Touches151
Passes140
Pass Accuracy96%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Fouls Won0
Turnovers2
Key Passes1

Arron says8.0

Quite simply, Xavi is a machine. He didn’t quite top the pile in terms of passes this time round, but his contribution was key to Barcelona’s victory. The only question ahead of the Clasico is who will partner Xavi in midfield? Cesc Fàbregas or Andrés Iniesta?

Alexis Sanchez 8.0
Minutes played90
Touches55
Passes43
Pass Accuracy86%
Shots/Shots on Target3/1
Fouls Won4
Successful Dribbles1
Key Passes1
Turnovers3

Arron says7.5

Sanchez was up against it from the word go given the aggressive nature of Benifca’s gameplan, but he held his own against some truly thuggish behaviour from the hosts and even found time to grab his first goal of the season. With Pedro faltering, it was vital that Alexis delivered, and to his credit he did. The goal itself was a real poacher’s effort, and while much was made about the Chilean strength/dribbling skills when he signed, it’s clear one of his greatest traits is his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Whether that’s making a smart run free of the last defender, or arriving late into the area, Sanchez has the potential to become a great goal-scorer; let’s hope he continues in that vein on Sunday.

Lionel Messi 8.7
Minutes played90
Touches90
Passes75
Pass Accuracy84%
Shots/Shots on Target3/2
Fouls Won4
Successful Dribbles3
Key Passes3
Turnovers2

Arron says9.0

Food for thought: Wayne Rooney lays on two assists against CFR Cluj for Robin Van Persie, and is lavished with praise from all sections of the media. Lionel Messi lays on two assists for his teammates against better opposition, and some people criticise his lack of goals? His passing was far more accurate on Tuesday, he had fewer shots, committed fewer turnovers, completed a number of dribbles and Messi even won a couple of headers – testing the keeper with one of those efforts. It was a fantastic performance, which should serve as good preparation for the Clasico ahead.

Pedro Rodriguez 6.9
Minutes played82
Touches59
Passes47
Pass Accuracy87%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Fouls Won0
Key Passes0
Turnovers5

Arron says6.0

Usually I find ways to defend Pedro, but this was a sub-par performance from the Spaniard and as a result, he may find his place in the starting XI under threat. Booked (perhaps harshly) for diving, Pedro struggled to really get into the game, giving the ball away a number of times, and strangely enough, Pedro also failed to win a foul in his 82 minutes on the pitch.

Andrés Iniesta 7.1
Minutes played18
Touches38
Passes35
Pass Accuracy97%

Arron saysN/A

It’s nice to see Iniesta back on the field, but after Puyol’s injury, the action really died down so it would be unfair to rate his performance.

Alex Song 6.3
Minutes played12
Touches17
Passes16
Pass Accuracy100%

Arron saysN/A

Alex Song replaced the injured Carles Puyol and made one interception in his time on the field – but that’s not enough to warrant a full rating.

David Villa 6.6
Minutes played8
Touches7
Passes5
Pass Accuracy100%

Arron saysN/A

El Guaje played eight minutes and only made seven touches of the ball in that time – not enough for a rating.

The Team 8.2
Passes976
Pass Accuracy93%
Shots/Shots on Target8/5
Tackles17
Aerial Battles Won50%
Fouls Won/Committed23/14

Arron says8.5

A comfortable victory for the team, arguably a far easier victory than many of us expected,. Of course, Benfica still had their chances, but resorted to long shots for the most part and failed to really get in close to test Victor Valdes. The team conserved energy ahead of the weekend's crunch encounter with Real Madrid, it's just a shame that Carles Puyol couldn't complete the 90 minutes.

Tito Vilanova 7.5

Arron says7.0

It was a strong selection from Tito, one that paid off handsomely. However, it's hard to really tell whether this was a successful game without seeing the result of the weekend's match as well. My only criticism is that Puyol shouldn't have completed more than an hour.

MOTM - Messi 53%

Arron saysMessi

With no-one else really offering any substantial competition, Messi ran away with yet another MOTM award, and deservedly so given his two assists.

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