La Liga: Real Mallorca 0-2 FC Barcelona: Player Ratings

MALLORCA, SPAIN - MARCH 24: Carles Puyol of FC Barcelona (R) duels for the ball with Michael Pereira of RCD Mallorca during the La Liga match between RCD Mallorca and FC Barcelona at Iberostar Stadium on March 24, 2012 in Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Victor Valdes 6.5

Valdes played quite well, but had very little to do during the course of the 90 minutes. In fact, aside from when the Barcelona defense chose to include him in the possession play, he was a mere spectator. I do remember one save from Tomer’s shot on the turn, but all in all, a very quiet game for Valdes.

Gerard Pique 7.5

All is forgiven Geri! Well, for now anyway. Pique’s recent form has been inadequate to say the least, but this was a triumphant return towards form for the Catalan. His defensive work was good, but not great, and his goal relieved a whole lot of pressure as well as kept the heat on Real Madrid. The 90 minutes was mistake-free as much as I can remember, even though the Blaugrana did operate with a three man defense for the majority of the match. A contender for Man of the Match.

Carles Puyol 7.0

Much like the rest of the defense, Puyol was barely tested throughout the 90 minutes. In the three-man defense, he combated the Mallorca threat well, but again, wasn’t stretched to his limit. With Milan upcoming, everyone at the club will be grateful for Puyol’s versatility and how he and the rest of the defense were allowed to canter through this match. Great pass to Messi as well.

Javier Mascherano 6.5

I feel like a broken record, but Mascherano’s match was very similar to Puyol and Pique’s: he had very little to do. When called upon, he was solid, and it’s great that he could conserve energy for Wednesday and AC Milan.

Sergio Busquets 7.5

The more I see Busquets play, the more and more I think that everyone is absolutely crazy to label him as a diver. Sure, he goes down easily, but why do people have to look at the negatives when Busi is such a fantastic player? Busquets didn’t do much in truth, but once the team went down to 10 men, his hold-up play and confidence in possession was vital. Never have I seen a defensive midfielder that can pass the ball so well, and is just so astute in possession. While everyone was looking for Cesc to fill in for Xavi, I think Busquets did a far better job.

Thiago Alcantara 6.5

Poor Thiago. He was much better than midweek, but ended up getting sent off for blocking a cross with his shoulder. The decision to send him off was ludicrous, although, I struggle to see why the club will appeal. Thiago usually sits on the bench, and there is little need for an appeal if he is to sit on the bench next week. During his time on the field, he was playing well, in particular his jaw-dropping pass to Lionel Messi.

Andres Iniesta 5.0

It was a popular topic during our match thread: what happened to Andres Iniesta? He was misplacing passes left, right and centre, displaying poor control and a dire first touch. Quite simply imagine a normal performance from Iniesta, and then imagine what the complete opposite would be like. He did have a couple of decent moments, when two of his shots were blocked, but all in all, Iniesta was a major disappointment. Hopefully he was saving his energy for Milan...

Cesc Fabregas 6.5

Better from Cesc, but still not great. While his childhood teammate Leo Messi tears up records, Cesc is beginning to look a little jaded, dare I say that his lack of experience in a title race is starting to affect him? Fabregas wasn’t an obvious threat in attack, nor was he instrumental in keeping possession. Instead he took the hard route, tracking back where possible to help his defense. Not quite Xavi, not quite Iniesta, Cesc wasn’t at his best, but did show that he is a completely different player to his colleagues.

Pedro 5.0

I count myself amongst Pedro’s biggest fans, but this was a shocker by the winger. Much like Iniesta, his control escaped him, while his decision-making was pretty suspect. The only positive moment was when he lost the ball in the area, only to harry Mallorca into a mistake, before setting up Leo Messi for a shot. I think everyone was glad when he left the pitch to be honest, but his record in the Champions League remains exceptional.

Alexis Sanchez 7.0

After his poor showing against Granada, I was hugely impressed with Alexis last night. His work-rate both offensively and defensively was exemplary, and he led the line well in attack. Sanchez was unlucky not to have any clear chances on goal, although he did hit the bar before half-time when his shot just inside the area appeared to take a deflection.

Lionel Messi 7.5

By his standards, it was a quiet game, but he still got a goal, taking his tally to 55 for the season. It was the eighth consecutive match with a goal, and no matter the circumstances, they all count the same. Messi dropped deeper late on as Barcelona looked to close out the game with possession of the ball, but the fact remains that almost every incident of note in attack involved Messi in some way or another. I don’t want to tempt fate, but I think Leo is set to put on another master-class against Milan this week.

Substitutes:

Martin Montoya 8.0 MOTM

I understand that he didn’t even play a full half, but what a showing by Montoya. I know he is good, but Alves would have been proud of a performance like that, especially off the bench. His interventions at the back were pivotal; maybe Mallorca would have scraped a draw if Montoya had been left on the bench? Despite the man disadvantage, he surged forward without ever jeopardising the defense, which is a rare skill to possess. Sheer quality.

Seydou Keita 6.5

Keita only made a cameo, but did what was required: holding up play and helping the defense.

Cristian Tello N/A

Tello did look bright in his time on the field, but didn’t have enough touches of the ball to really allow us to judge his performance.

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