UEFA Champions League: FC Barcelona 3-1 AC Milan: Player Ratings

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 03: Goalkeeper Victor Valdes of FC Barcelona celebrates during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between FC Barcelona and AC Milan at the Camp Nou stadium on April 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Victor Valdes 6.4
Minutes played90
Touches30
Passes18
Pass Accuracy67%
Shots Faced3

Guidance says7.0

He made a couple of crucial saves from the very few chances Milan created. He always made his presence felt during corner kicks; collecting the ball with ease. He couldn’t do anything about Nocerino’s well taken shot from close range after his defense’s weakly executed offside trap (or lack thereof) left him guard-less and one-on-one with the Milanese man. He made a brilliant save against Robinho on the 61st min, a move which was then called back due to an earlier foul by the Brazilian. He was always quick off his line to collect the ball and combine with the backline as they worked on building play from the back.

Dani Alves 7.5
Minutes played90
Touches82
Passes57
Pass Accuracy82%
Shots/Shots on Target2/0
Tackles3
Interceptions5
Clearances1
Turnovers1

Guidance says8.5

It was a wonderful performance by the Brazilian Right Back. He was extremely efficient in both attack and defense and helped neutralize a lot of dangerous attacks from Milan. He was unlucky not to get Cesc with his dangerous cross on the 9th min. He almost scored on the 26th min when he went on a long, dangerous and skill-rich run from deep in Milan’s half toward their goal, beating a couple of defenders in the process. He had a free-kick deflected by Pique and out for a goal-kick on the 29th min. The second half saw him go on a long stream of brilliant tackles coupled with well-timed interceptions and amazingly won aerial duels. His perfectly weighted cross to Messi with 4 minutes of regulation time remaining could easily have resulted in the team’s fourth goal.

Gerard Pique 7.0
Minutes played75
Touches42
Passes39
Pass Accuracy77%
Shots/Shots on Target1/0
Tackles0
Interceptions0
Clearances1
Shots Blocked0

Guidance says7.0
He made a very good tackle on the 3rd min inside the box and won a goal-kick, a move that helped in absorbing the pressure we are used to witnessing around the first 10 minutes of almost all our games. He made another major defensive move on the 21st min as Milan was fighting very hard to get back in the game. He looked vulnerable on a couple of occasions as most of Milan’s attackers, notably Robinho and Ibrahimovic, got the better of him; but his colleagues at the back were mostly there to help him get by. He requested to be substituted on the 75th min after he suffered what looked like a hamstring problem; Adriano was the man who replaced him.

(Note: Pique is expected to miss the match against Zaragoza, but is likely to return for Getafe)

Javier Mascherano - Yellow 7.3
Minutes played90
Touches53
Passes37
Pass Accuracy76%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles5
Interceptions3
Clearances6
Shots Blocked0

Guidance says7.5

Masche had a very good game and his performance was very decisive. He took care of two Milan attacks in the space of less than a minute (on the 15th min) when he was quick to defend a dangerous move by Milan and then made one of his well known trademark tackles to quickly stop another attack after his teammates lost possession. He then went on to complete more decisive tackles and even greater defensive displays. Some of us think he was at fault for the goal we conceded, that might well be true, but the effects of a three man backline also had their influence; the move Milan made required defenders to cover more ground, more importantly communicate well to deal with it and happened very fast. He also got himself booked on the 66th min for an incident that looked a little harsh as he seemed to get the ball.

Carles Puyol 7.1
Minutes played90
Touches41
Passes31
Pass Accuracy94%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles2
Interceptions1
Clearances4
Turnovers1

Guidance says7.5

He executed a brilliantly timed defensive move on the 9th min to stop a Milan attack that could have ended on a sour note for the Blaugrana on another day. He could have got himself on the score sheet on the 18th min when he came very close to connecting with a very dangerous free kick from Xavi. He kept his area of the pitch very quiet as he eliminated all the danger that threatened to come through him. He also worked very hard to help build play from deep in defense to create a lot of attacks for the Blaugrana which could all have resulted in goals. He’s definitely on a route to possibly claim one more Champions League medal before the end of a very successful career in the Barcelona colors.

Sergio Busquets 7.6
Minutes played90
Touches92
Passes80
Pass Accuracy90%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles1
Interceptions7

Guidance says8.5

It was a very successful performance by the young holding midfielder. He read the game brilliantly and he saved the team with a perfectly timed clearance in just under 5 minutes as Milan looked to get an early advantage. He also executed another brilliant defensive move on the 26th min to prevent what looked like a probable comeback by the Italian team. He also won the team the second penalty as he was victim to shirt pulling in the box during a corner kick. His passing was very precise and accurate and reminiscent of a team that uses possession as a shield. He protected the defense to his maximum potential and supported a very creative Midfield boasting the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.

Xavi Hernandez 7.2
Minutes played63
Touches73
Passes66
Pass Accuracy94%
Shots/Shots on Target3/1
Successful Dribbles0
Turnovers0

Guidance says7.5

Xavi was very crucial in this game and his work is testimony to that fact. His job was to get the ball, pass it and move to open up space as he worked with Andres to create opportunities and control the game. He often had to drop very deep in order to get the ball and build play from the back as Milan pressed higher at times. He had a powerful long range shot saved on the 36th min and another one deflected for a corner two minutes later. His tackle on the 45th min was a little mistimed and he was warned for the foul that resulted. His free kick on the 49th min was only a few inches wide. The game was already won when he was applauded off the field to be replaced by Thiago just after the hour mark.

Andres Iniesta 8.0
Minutes played90
Touches98
Passes83
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target2/1
Successful Dribbles1
Turnovers1

Guidance says8.0

Men like Andres are very rare; he always rises up to the occasion to fulfill the extreme expectations that accompany a big game. He combined well with Messi to beat three defenders on the 2nd min of the game but his final shot was slightly poor and dragged wide off target. He created a lot of dangerous opportunities for Messi, and his passes on the 24th and 43rd min stood out. His goal on the 53rd min surely shattered Milan’s dreams and aspirations as it meant that a single goal for them wouldn’t have been enough to see them through anymore. He continued to combine with teammates and looking even hungrier for the fourth goal but the score line was enough to see the Blaugrana through.

Isaac Cuenca - Yellow 6.9
Minutes played90
Touches51
Passes36
Pass Accuracy92%
Shots/Shots on Target0/1
Fouls Won1
Successful Dribbles1
Key Passes1
Turnovers1

Guidance says7.5
I am still finding it difficult to understand how Pep chooses between Cuenca and Tello, he’s always very unpredictable and I’m not even sure it will ever be obvious. Cuenca was very crucial in this game and the decision to start him was a brilliant one. He was always there, hugging the touch line and creating width; a tactic that saw a very narrow Milan team struggle to contain. His crosses, notably on the 14th, 21st, 50th and 86th min, could easily have resulted in goals and I believe we’ve all seen it happen before. He was booked on the 85th min for pulling back Philippe Mexes.

Lionel Messi 8.3
Minutes played90
Touches100
Passes68
Pass Accuracy94%
Shots/Shots on Target9/5
Fouls Won2
Successful Dribbles5
Key Passes4
Turnovers5

Guidance says8.5

Two brilliantly taken spot kicks from Lionel Messi took his tally of the season to 14 goals. Check Luis Rodrigo’s recent piece ‘here’ showering all the deserved praise towards the 24 year old Argentine. He had a lot of opportunities to kill off this tie and he was probably disappointed at only managing to get two goals on the night. His shots were either blocked, brilliantly saved or inches off target. He created play for teammates too, notable by a moment on the 10th min when he had a clean view of the goal but decided to slip a pass to Xavi; some think it was him showing his unselfishness and proving that he’s not driven by scoring records and some claim he was intimidated by Abbiati, I say we’ll never know and we just have to live with it and appreciate the penalty that the move won us. He had two free kicks too, one on the 37th min that was brilliant saved by the keeper and another 2 min into stoppage time that was just inches wide. He was the Master behind the third goal as well, scored by Iniesta and I’m very sure no one can bet against him being decisive in the semi final games and more likely the final too.

Cesc Fabregas 7.3
Minutes played78
Touches76
Passes65
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target2/1
Fouls Won3
Successful Dribbles2
Key Passes3
Turnovers1

Guidance says7.0

It was a relatively quiet game for Cesc, but he was still very important to the team nonetheless. He combined well with Alves on the 6th min to execute one of his well renowned passes to Messi in the 6 yard box and was unlucky not to register an assist as the Argentine uncharacteristically dragged his effort wide across goal. He had a very dangerous through ball in on the 31st min intercepted and his close range shot was easily saved 5 min later. He made a couple of key passes around Milan’s 18 yard box as Barca looked to create chances and was later withdrawn with just above 10 min of normal time remaining to be replaced by Seydou Keita.

Thiago Alcantara 6.5
Minutes played27
Touches37
Passes28
Pass Accuracy93%
Shots/Shots on Target1/0
Successful Dribbles1
Turnovers1

Guidance says6.5

He replaced Xavi just above the hour mark and was not as impressive as he was in the League game against Bilbao (in the weekend). It will take absolute ignorance from someone who can claim to have missed the amount of rough treatment he received from the Milan players; he was fouled left, right and centre. He had a very dangerous pass intercepted in just two minutes after coming in, but it was his miss on the 69th min which this writer feels deserves to be called a foul punishable by a yellow card or even worse. He also lost too much possession for the amount of time he had on the pitch.

Adriano Correia 6.0
Minutes played15
Touches12
Passes7
Pass Accuracy86%
Shots/Shots on Target1/0
Key Passes1
Turnovers0

Guidance says6.5

He came in for Gerard Pique with just 15 min of normal time remaining. He helped absorb Milan’s pressure as the game neared conclusion and the team settled back to a four-man backline. Someone in the comments jokingly said that they’ll be fine as long as Adriano stopped taking shots and I might look into it if the Brazilian continues making those kinds of misses, especially from close range.

Seydou Keita 5.9
Minutes played12
Touches11
Passes11
Pass Accuracy91%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0

Guidance saysN/A

He replaced Cesc with 12 min of normal time remaining and even though that’s sometimes enough, he didn’t see enough of the ball to earn him a complete rating.

The Team 7.9
Passes651
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target21/8
Tackles19
Aerial Battles Won40%
Fouls Won/Committed19/9

Guidance says8.5

The boys got the job done ‘on a very good pitch’. They reduced a very good Milan team into some average team running around looking for the ball and which was only allowed about three opportunities, while getting around twenty themselves. The defense lost a little concentration for that goal we conceded but that was expected, even Pep predicted it. They pressed hungrily for the ball and passed it around in Milan’s half and looked sure to score with every opportunity. It’s the way in which they attack and defend as a unit that fascinates me. They’ve won a lot in recent years but their hunger and drive to win even more never seems to change. They haven’t lost a trophy this season and they are still doing everything in their power to keep it that way.

Pep Guardiola 8.2

Guidance says10.0

What a brilliant game for our beloved tactician. He started it in the press, sending the message to every follower out there that "Milan will score", but that we needed to score more to progress. He then did all he could with all he had and started a very strong line-up, one which was able to dynamically shift between a three and a four man defense without any fuss. And then after he was sure that the tie was secured, he withdrew Xavi (the master of the Barca system); with news of his recent injury worries floating around, he was not to be risked any further. All his substitutions had strong attacking abilities, but more importantly they could defend with ease; that was him telling everyone that yes we are at an advantage and we need to secure the score, but what’s the harm in trying to extend it? So Milan needed to attack but they also needed to be careful as well. There is a very tight schedule ahead, and he has a very tough job of keeping his players in good shape, but he will definitely step up to the occasion, he always does.

MOTM - Lionel Messi 52%

Guidance saysBusquets

More than half of the community voted for the Argentine magician to bag the man of the match award and I’m very sure that his work in the game and all his stats above make a strong case for him. He scored two goals and created the other one in a game he could easily have delivered more. This writer applauds Messi for the award and also acknowledges Sergio for being a strong contender.

We’ll find out by very soon whether it’s Chelsea or Benfica we are facing next, but whoever it is, the team will face them with an eye in the final; the performance, not just the result but the dedication, in this game doesn’t suggest otherwise. Check out our match review in case you missed it and other articles discussing the aftermath of the Game.

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