La Liga: Levante UD 1-2 FC Barcelona: Player Ratings

VALENCIA, SPAIN - APRIL 14: Head coach Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between Levante UD and FC Barcelona at Ciutat de Valencia on April 14, 2012 in Valencia, Spain. FC Barcelona won 1-2. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Victor Valdes 6.2
Minutes played90
Touches19
Passes7
Pass Accuracy100%
Shots Faced5
Saves Made1

Arron says6.0

I think Valdes’ match yesterday personified the Blaugrana performance. He made a couple of errors, which were punished severely by the opposition and overall he just seemed a little "off". His passing was accurate, and he made a decent save in injury time to deny his former teammate Xavi Torres an equaliser, but his feeble attempt to claim a corner kick led to Gustavo Cabral’s shot and therefore the penalty decision against Sergio Busquets. Chances are this was just a blip.

Carles Puyol 7.5
Minutes played90
Touches49
Passes40
Pass Accuracy93%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles0
Interceptions4
Clearances2
Turnovers0

Arron says7.5

What would we do without Carles Puyol in defense? Despite turning 34 this week, Puyol shows no signs of slowing down both physically or mentally. Even though he was one part of a defensive triumvirate, Puyol nearly connected with a Xavi pass in the first 10 minutes, and if he had, I think Munua would have been in trouble. Defensively, he was impeccable, with the obvious highlight being the cross he intercepted on 52 mins after Thiago’s mistake. The only question mark is where he starts on Wednesday.

Javier Mascherano 8.0
Minutes played90
Touches55
Passes41
Pass Accuracy93%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles3
Interceptions5
Clearances3
Shots Blocked1

Arron says8.5

What more can we say about Javier Mascherano? The Argentine destroyer’s metamorphosis from defensive midfielder to world-class centre back has been well documented, but what astounds me the most is that he is still improving. In a way, Masch’s continuing improvement at centre-back is similar to Lionel Messi’s rise and rise at centre-forward. we think he has reached a limit, he just carries on regardless. Give it a few more weeks, and I think teams might just give up all together. I can’t wait for Mascherano to show what he’s really made of next Saturday. Weak link? You must be joking.

Adriano Correia 6.5
Minutes played90
Touches85
Passes62
Pass Accuracy92%
Shots/Shots on Target2/2
Tackles2
Interceptions4
Clearances3
Turnovers0

Arron says6.5

Just a week ago, I would have never even contemplated using Adriano in a three-man defense. After all, how can an attack-minded Brazilian full-back be reliable as a centre-half? Well, much like Alves has proved on the right side, Adriano is a solid defender as well as an attacking threat. However, I still wouldn’t count on him against the teams from the upper echelons, as positionally, he is still lacking. His shot from outside the area was pretty decent though.

Sergio Busquets 6.5
Minutes played90
Touches105
Passes98
Pass Accuracy93%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles2
Interceptions1
Clearances1
Turnovers0

Arron says6.0

Not the best game for Busi, but hardly a disaster either. Maybe it’s the high standards he has set himself in recent games, but I was left disappointed with his performance. The penalty concession was a little harsh, but ultimately I understand why it was given, and aside from that he was pretty anonymous. While sometimes a quiet game is a signal that a player played well, I think compared to previous weeks and fixtures, Busi should have contributed more.

Xavi Hernandez 6.1
Minutes played45
Touches79
Passes73
Pass Accuracy92%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Tackles1
Interceptions1
Key Passes0
Turnovers0

Arron says6.5

Considering he only played in the first half, I was astounding to see that Xavi made over 70 passes in his time on the field. If anything, this just goes to show that Barcelona truly were the dominant team and deserved to win the match. His final ball delivery was good, if not excellent, with Thiago’s free header assisted by none other than Xavi. Hopefully his withdrawal during the half-time break was down purely to a tactical decision rather than an injury; Barcelona need Xavi at his best for the next 10 days.

Thiago Alcantara 6.5
Minutes played90
Touches115
Passes102
Pass Accuracy94%
Shots/Shots on Target4/1
Successful Dribbles0
Fouls Won2
Turnovers0

Arron says7.0

Ah, Thiago. One of my favourite players on the team, and this was one of his better performances in a Barcelona shirt away from the Camp Nou. However, that doesn’t mean it was all good from the Spaniard. He almost certainly should have done better with the two headed chances that fell his way, while he was practically anonymous after Levante took the lead. Although the fact remains that Thiago was arguably the Blaugrana’s best player for the opening half-hour.

Cesc Fabregas 5.6
Minutes played90
Touches108
Passes92
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target2/1
Successful Dribbles2
Turnovers1
Key Passes1

Arron says3.0

Wait a minute, Cesc played? Oh, yeah, that's right, he was the one that had one chance on goal with a header, but directed his effort right at the keeper, and the one that single-handedly killed more Barcelona attacks than the Levante defense. Buck it up Cesc, and quick.

Pedro Rodriguez 6.3
Minutes played54
Touches44
Passes32
Pass Accuracy94%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Fouls Won1
Successful Dribbles0
Key Passes0
Turnovers0

Arron says6.5

After scoring in successive matches for the first time in forever, expectations were high for Pedro, and I suppose the fact he didn’t score makes this performance a failure of sorts. Well, I still have him on two goals for the past three games, which is pretty decent unless your name is Lionel Messi. His crossing is improving and his work-rate is as high as ever. His departure on 54 minutes for Iniesta helped swing the game in Barca’s favour, but also hints at an involvement from the start on Wednesday. I can’t wait to see what Pedro turns up.

Lionel Messi 8.0
Minutes played90
Touches104
Passes72
Pass Accuracy83%
Shots/Shots on Target6/2
Fouls Won2
Successful Dribbles7
Key Passes4
Turnovers4

Arron says8.5

Let’s be honest here: Barcelona didn’t play at all well. However, they did escape Valencia with three points. The reason? Lionel Messi. The three time Ballon D’Or winner has had better games, but this was perhaps his most decisive match since the semi-final first leg against Real Madrid last season. Barcelona were human for the first hour, and were in great danger of losing La Liga entirely, until Messi went into overdrive. He grabbed the team – and the match – by the scruff of the neck, and dragged them kicking and screaming to a vital win. Sure, others were involved with his first goal, but Messi was the only player in world football who would have played a one-two in that situation and then scored off the return pass. Not only that, but his penalty was well-taken. 63 goals for the season, with 24 assists; Lionel Messi is on course for the best individual season EVER, and we aren’t even surprised.

Alexis Sanchez 6.7
Minutes played76
Touches40
Passes26
Pass Accuracy81%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Fouls Won1
Successful Dribbles1
Key Passes2
Turnovers3

Arron says8.5

Alexis was quite hit and miss for me, like how he assisted Leo’s goal, but didn’t manage a shot on goal himself. He also provided Cuenca with the pass for the penalty, but was anonymous for large periods as well. Ultimately, I guess he didn’t do anything wrong, but I must say I was expecting more. However, for a player that only signed in the summer, he is still relatively new to the approach opposition teams take against us, I just hope he isn’t as quiet next week.

Isaac Cuenca 7.3
Minutes played45
Touches43
Passes23
Pass Accuracy96%
Crosses7

Arron says8.0

His introduction for Xavi surprised a few of us, but as time wore on, it became increasingly clear why Pep opted for the young winger. He stretched the play in a way the others could only dream of doing, but more importantly, he stretched the Levante defense. His passing was accurate as per usual, with the clear highlight being the pass from the right hand side to set up Messi’s wall pass with Alexis. Furthermore, no matter your opinion on the penalty decision, credit has to go to Cuenca for having the experience and know-how to get goalside of the defender. Cuenca has a great shot of starting at least one game in the next 10 days.

Andres Iniesta 7.0
Minutes played36
Touches32
Passes27
Pass Accuracy93%
Key Passes1

Arron says6.5

Iniesta was fairly quiet in his time on the pitch, but his mere presence seemed to open up space for his teammates. In possession he was assured and made astute decisions to keep the pressure on Levante while removing any danger of a counter attack.

Dani Alves 6.2
Minutes played14
Touches25
Passes17
Pass Accuracy82%

Arron saysN/A

Nice to see Alves back on the field after a couple of matches out through injury, but he didn’t do enough to really warrant a full rating.

The Team 7.0
Passes757
Pass Accuracy91%
Shots/Shots on Target16/8
Tackles21
Aerial Battles Won0%
Fouls Won/Committed16/7

Arron says8.0

Admittedly, we were pretty terrible for the most part, but the team emerged victorious nonetheless. Football is a results-driven business and therefore, the manner of the performance doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, this win carries the same number of points as the 4-0 vs Getafe, or the 3-1 vs Madrid. Also, Levante did not create a single chance on their own, with the penalty being their only shot on target until added on time. It was a sterile domination, but I can’t argue with that final result.

Pep Guardiola 7.2

Arron says8.0

I think Pep will look back on his starting line-up with a hint of regret, with the decision to start Cesc the most baffling in my eyes. Whether this was an off-day or not, I wonder whether Cesc was training badly or looked a little off during the week, as I hesitate to believe he could play so poorly without warning. However, Pep reacted to the game incredibly well; the substitutions were inspired and paid off brilliantly. This next week or so will tell us a lot about our manager, but early signs indicate that he is improving yet further by the week.

MOTM - Lionel Messi 49%

Arron saysMessi

What? Again? Oh, well, this time I'm not surprised. Messi scored both goals in a comeback victory, so no matter who you nominate, Messi is probably the right choice. Mascherano did get close (and deservedly so) with a little under 40% of the votes, but Messi still won! Just like Barcelona, Messi seems unstoppable with the MOTM voting :P

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