SEVILLE, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Head coach Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona looks on prior to the start of the la Liga match between Sevilla and FC Barcelona at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on March 17, 2012 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Victor Valdes 7.5 MOTM
I always use the data at my disposal to judge this things and I think our keeper gets the MOTM award for this game. So many things could have went wrong without him and this time he had to earn his clean sheet, unlike the games where we get around 75% possession and don’t concede any shot on target. He made a great save off a corner on the 23rd min and he can’t be blamed (opinion) for trusting Pique to take care of that ball that bounced off the cross bar from a Manu header on the 33rd min. He made a full stretch save on the 41st min to stop a Kanoute shot which initially looked like an obvious goal. He did well to catch a dangerous ball off a Kanoute cross on the 48th min and his aerial save on the 75th min capped off a fantastic performance by him.
Daniel Alves 6.5
A very poor game by his standards. He seemed to squander every opportunity he got to impress. He combined well with Messi on the 5th min but the shot/cross he made in the end was very poor and went out for a goal kick. He could have done better with his through ball on the 12th min, his cross on the 58th min was poor as well and his shot off a free kick rebound on the 76th min was way over the bar. If one follows all of the errors above, they’ll realise that they were all in attack, that’s because he was very clean with his defensive duties.
Well one more fantastic game for the Argentine man. At this rate I don’t see him failing to start in a Champions League final, and this time he won’t be filling in for an unfit player, he would have earned it. His last ditch tackle on the 13th min was the kind we get to see every time he plays and he was very unfortunate not to have found a teammate with his dangerous cross on the 59th min. He went on to show that his decision making is superior on the 67th min when defended yet another dangerous counter and conceding a corner was the best option he had given the circumstances.
One more game into his records where he seems to combine well with offensive teammates and make some dangerous offensive runs, but the majority of his defensive work lets him down. He did defend a counter attack well on the 13th min and made a powerful long pass to Iniesta 3 min later, but he was caught ball watching on the 33rd min when a ball that looked obviously his was headed by Manu who unfortunately hit the crossbar with his effort. He made a good clearing header on the 38th min, but before everyone could finish complementing, he spoiled it just less than 30 seconds later when he gave Kanoute a free shot in the box who fortunately drilled it wide off target. He needs to get things together fast before costing us the ‘big ears trophy’.
He almost scored on the 6th min as his deflected shot was just inches over the bar and landed on to the roof of the net. He pace was tested on the 40th minute as he was not fast enough to beat Kanoute to the ball during a Sevilla counter attack. He defended his flank well on the 53rd min as he managed to win the ball and pass it to Valdes under pressure. He was cleanly beaten off a dribble on the 66th min and allowed a dangerous cross by Jesus Navas but fortunately his teammates squandered the ball wide off Valdes’ goal.
Sergio did his defensive and offensive work well as he linked up well with Xavi to recycle possession and distribute the ball. He didn’t see too much of the ball to leave a serious mark in the game but his efforts were enough to help our rear guard keep a clean sheet.
Xavi Hernandez 7.0 Out 82’
His free kick on the 4th min couldn’t touch Busquets’ head but he was not to waste another free kick as he unleashed a powerful shot on the 18th min, becoming the first person this season to score from two direct free kicks away from home. His shot on the 27th min from about 6 yards was very weak to trouble the keeper. He continued doing what he does best, which is controlling the game and distributing the ball, but he probably needed Iniesta in midfield to get us above 70% possession. He was given a standing ovation as he left the field on the 82nd min to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez.
Andres Iniesta 7.0
This guy had one of those games you get to sit and laugh about in case you won, but you’ll seriously be mad about if you happen to have lost. He tried his best to cause all sorts of problems for Sevilla playing in that Left Wing position, in which he’s arguably not very effective at. He is very tricky for the defence and he dribbles past them at will. I’m not sure if he only gets to score the most important goals or what, but he twice (20th and 73rd min) missed an open goal from about six yards, drilling both his efforts inches of target, and this is not the first game in which I’ve seen him do something similar. To his credit, he did earn himself a valuable assist for Messi’s goal after a weighted pass that was enough to let the Argentine through.
He started the game well; passing the ball, combining well with teammates and creating chances for about the first 25 min, but then something changed from there onwards and I can’t really pinpoint it. He got isolated and even started fumbling the most important passes. He missed an open goal from 6 yards on the 45th min, or a sitter as they call it, and his offside on the 52nd minute was his last major event before being substituted by Keita on the 69th min.
Pedro Rodriguez 6.5 Yellow
The are moments in the game where no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get to score, Pedro is having one of them. He is quick on his feet, he creates chances for teammates and presses the opposition for the entire game but he’s very unlucky in front of goal. Take his weak foot effort on the 29th min out of the picture and look at the chances he had on the 11th, 40th and the 87th min; they were all serious opportunities and to his credit he hit the target in all of them, but something always stops the ball from going in (might be a great save by the keeper or block by defender, but something). He’s got one big thing to his advantage when we compare him with the boys on the bench and that is his work-rate (and his experience comes close too).
This was a difficult game for Ballon D’Or man by his standards. The 6th and 22nd minute saw him combine well with his teammates and was unable to power a shot because of the pressure the defence was putting on him. His moment came on the 25th min when he was released on the edge of the box by Iniesta and was one-on-one with the keeper after a bit of work, I didn’t completely think he would score because it looked impossible, but he made one of those chips over the keeper proved to the doubters like me that it was not impossible. He didn’t see much of the ball from there on and seemed to have dropped a little deeper. His two free kicks on the 76th and 89th minute hit the wall and the other went over the bar and he had a goal rightly called back for offside on the 90th min.
He almost suffered a concussion, just a minute after coming in to replace Cesc after he collided with Cala (who had also just came in 2min earlier) but after a consulting with the medics in the sidelines he was cleared to continue. He didn’t see enough of the ball to test the goalkeeper or send in a dangerous through ball.
Alexis Sanchez N/A In 82
Replaced Xavi on the 82nd minute even though he got to test the goal keeper on the 88th min, a rating could not be given.
Came in to replace Adriano with 5 min of regulation time remaining and it was not enough to earn him a rating.
The team played well considering the fact that it was an away fixture against a very good team. But they had to show everyone the signs of why we struggle away from home; the defence left us nervous a couple of times even though Pique was the main perpetrator in this case. We could have gotten another goal or two before the final whistle but to be honest, our entire offense, including the midfield, decreased the tempo in the second half and we were probably lucky not to witness one of those depressing comebacks by Sevilla.
Our next game is at home against Granada on the 20th (Tues) at 20:00 GMT and don’t forget to check out our review for this game in case you missed it or later the stats analysis also for this game. Adios!!!!