La Liga: FC Barcelona 4-1 Malaga CF: Player Ratings

I would probably let out a demented looking smile like this if I was going to be coaching Lionel Messi and co. but my word, this is pretty creepy Tito

And then it was over. After three seasons at the pinnacle of Spanish football, FC Barcelona have been dethroned by eternal rivals Real Madrid – or as some might say "The King is dead, long live the King!" After their 3-0 win at San Mames yesterday evening, many are speculating whether Jose Mourinho is set to build a dynasty in the Spanish capital, including Madrid right-back Alvaro Arbeloa. The World Cup winning full-back was clearly still feeling a little "joyful" after the team’s title celebrations and reportedly said "I'd like to say to Barcelona: 'Your glory days will soon come to an end'. That's the spirit we have now".

Considering that we will have to wait to find out whether Arbeloa is right, it’s quite fun reading some of the retorts by Blaugrana fans around the world, including my personal favourite: "I’d like to say to Arbeloa: ‘Enjoy the World Cup winners medal the Barcelona players won for you’" but hey, we shouldn’t pick on poor Alvaro, after all, he probably doesn’t realise that the majority of Madridistas consider him the weak-link in the squad. Whatever the case, congrats to Real Madrid on winning the title, but if I were a Madridista (*shudders*), I wouldn’t be getting ahead of myself just yet...

Ratings for the Malaga match are after the jump:

Jose Manuel Pinto 6.7
Minutes played90
Touches30
Passes15
Pass Accuracy93%
Shots Faced6
Saves Made2

Arron says6.5

After his excellent showing against Rayo, there really was only one way to go for Pinto’s performances: down. At times Jose looked indecisive and vulnerable when attempting to claim crosses, but you can’t fault his shot-stopping and reflexes as he demonstrated when he denied Ruud Van Nistelrooy a late consolation.

Dani Alves 6.7
Minutes played90
Touches129
Passes88
Pass Accuracy85%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Tackles8
Interceptions2
Turnovers5

Arron says7.0

A mixed game from our beloved Brazilian full-back. Offensively, Alves was no-where near his best, scuffing his crosses a little and misplacing a whole bunch of passes, but the stats indicate that he put on a defensive master-class and when you consider that Santi Cazorla was positioned on the same wing (or at least nearby) it’s a highly impressive feat. All in all, my opinion is that Alves needs a break.

Javier Mascherano 7.2
Minutes played90
Touches84
Passes74
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles5
Interceptions5
Clearances0
Shots Blocked0

Arron says7.5

Simply put, he is almost too good for the rest of La Liga. Back at Liverpool he was an excellent holding midfielder, but at Barcelona he has almost rewritten the textbooks on how to defend. Whether it’s jockeying an opponent, making a block tackle or executing an inch-perfect slide tackle, Masch can do it all, and does do it all every single game. And that’s without fail. His rating would have been higher, but his positioning is still questionable on the odd occasion, and unfortunately for him, those odd occasions are almost always punished, this time by Rondon.

Carles Puyol 7.8
Minutes played68
Touches56
Passes44
Pass Accuracy95%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Tackles3
Interceptions0
Clearances4

Arron says8.0

Puyol has five league goals this season, which coincidentally is how brilliant he is on a scale of 0 to 1. Quite literally, I can’t be the only one who lets out a wry smile every time El Capitan find the back of the net, after all, it is pretty darn ironic. With Lionel Messi scoring goals for fun, the last guy you would expect to open the scoring is Puyol, yet it happened. Maybe he could have done better with the Rondon goal, but I imagine he has already beaten himself up enough about it without me jumping on board. Enjoy him while you can.

Adriano Correia 7.0
Minutes played90
Touches98
Passes74
Pass Accuracy92%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Tackles2
Interceptions5
Clearances2
Turnovers1

Arron says7.0

Many people were mentioning how well Adriano played, and while I agree, there are a few notes I made. First off, he did play well and was far from anonymous on that left-hand side, but I couldn’t help but notice how the majority of Malaga’s attacks were down the right-hand side. Jesus Gamez is a decent full-back, but is by no means world-class, while Portillo was starting his first game of the season on the right-wing, yet both players seemed to have the beating of Adriano. Imagine if he played exactly the same way against Real Madrid, then judge his performance accordingly is my advice.

Seydou Keita 6.7
Minutes played90
Touches83
Passes75
Pass Accuracy96%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Tackles3
Interceptions1
Key Passes0
Turnovers1

Arron says6.5

Wait a minute, Keita played? Whenever he plays as Pivote, not only does the team play at a considerably lower tempo, but they also keep less possession and often the high-octane pressing game that characterised Barcelona’s success under Pep goes missing. Understandably, we cannot blame Keita at DM for all of this, but it won’t stop me from trying :P

Cesc Fabregas 7.3
Minutes played90
Touches105
Passes91
Pass Accuracy90%
Shots/Shots on Target1/0
Successful Dribbles1
Fouls Won1
Turnovers0
Tackles6
Key Passes0

Arron says7.0

Solid if unspectacular from the former Arsenal captain. It’s clear that Cesc is a very different player from Xavi and even Thiago, but still we can’t help but make the comparisons. While he has roughly as many touches of the ball as Thiago, he doesn’t pass the ball quite as much, and when played in this midfield role, he shows far less creativity. Cesc also isn’t quite as individual, but does contribute a little more defensively, and a lot more if you compare him to Xavi. Give him a summer off, and a proper pre-season and I think Fabregas will still be a very successful signing.

Andres Iniesta 8.6
Minutes played76
Touches86
Passes74
Pass Accuracy91%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Successful Dribbles5
Turnovers2
Key Passes2

Arron says9.5

Unplayable. Iniesta got two assists and was responsible for winning the first penalty before being taken off with a little under 20 minutes to play. When he dribbled at the Malaga defense, there was a certain air of expectation from the Camp Nou crowd, and he didn’t disappoint at all. Unbelievably most Madridistas are questioning the legitimacy of the first penalty, despite the fact that they won the league, but hey, that’s what two seasons under Jose Mourinho will do to you...

Isaac Cuenca 7.0
Minutes played90
Touches49
Passes41
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Fouls Won0
Successful Dribbles0
Key Passes1
Turnovers4

Arron says6.5

Virtually anonymous for the most part, I was willing Cuenca to get more involved in the game, but I guess all that shows is that I wouldn’t make a very good Barcelona manager. Clearly Cuenca is given strict instructions to keep the width, and he follows out those instructions to the word. Between him and Tello, I would opt for Cuenca every single time.

Lionel Messi 9.1
Minutes played90
Touches77
Passes48
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target6/3
Fouls Won3
Successful Dribbles2
Key Passes0
Turnovers3

Arron says9.0

46 goals in the league, 68 overall with 28 assists. I can’t even get players to do that on Football Manager. Lionel Messi is in the process of not only re-writing history and record books, but he is raising the standard for forwards all across the world and altering our perception of modern football with every swing of his left boot. I feel privileged to be able to watch him in action. Long may it continue!

Pedro Rodriguez 7.3
Minutes played85
Touches49
Passes37
Pass Accuracy81%
Shots/Shots on Target1/0
Fouls Won1
Successful Dribbles0
Key Passes1
Turnovers2

Arron says7.0

A reality check of sorts for Pedro after his brace against Rayo. However, unlike during his long-running goal droughts, Pedro is getting into the right positions with an alarming frequency. His pressing is infectious and drives the team to higher levels just as much as Lionel Messi’s goal heroics do, or Xavi’s passing ability. That’s how highly I rate a fully fit and on-form Pedro.

Marc Bartra 6.6
Minutes played22
Touches29
Passes24
Pass Accuracy83%

Arron says7.0

He didn’t have an awful lot of time to make an impact, but everything he did was solid. His style is very much by the book, but with that La Masia twist; it’s great to watch. Hopefully he will see more playing time next season under Tito.

Ibrahim Afellay 6.4
Minutes played14
Touches17
Passes13
Pass Accuracy100%

Arron saysN/A

With a little under 15 minutes to make an impact, it would be a little harsh to judge Afellay’s performance here.

Cristian Tello 6.1
Minutes played5
Touches7
Passes6
Pass Accuracy67%

Arron saysN/A

Much the same as Afellay, we didn’t see nearly enough of Tello to be able to make a proper judgement.

The Team 8.4
Passes738
Pass Accuracy90%
Shots/Shots on Target11/6
Tackles31
Aerial Battles Won44%
Fouls Won/Committed14/17

Arron says9.0

With nothing left to play for (league-wise), this team is playing exceptionally well. Looking at the XI’s for the past two matches, Barcelona have a perfect mix of youth, experience and crucially, players in their prime. Guys like Thiago, Cuenca and Montoya have been able to learn from the maturity and experience of guys like Puyol, Pinto and Keita, but have also picked up tips from players at the peak of their powers, like Iniesta and Messi. It really is great to watch, but I suppose you don’t need me to tell you that.

Pep Guardiola 8.7

Arron says8.5

Pep did everything right in this game, especially considering the importance of Saturday’s game. Resting Busi was a good call, while you can never go wrong by starting Messi up top with Pedro and with Iniesta in support. Maybe I would have started Thiago, but that’s down to personal preference more than anything else. Shame he’s only going to be around for a few more games.

MOTM - Messi 82%

Arron saysIniesta

Well, I thought 76% was one-sided, then Leo decided he would up the ante to 82%. I understand that he did score a hat-trick and all, but my personal choice would have been Andres for his two (but really three) assists.

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