La Liga: FC Barcelona 2-0 RCD Espanyol: Player Ratings

David Ramos

A detailed, player-by-player breakdown of Barcelona's 2-0 La Liga victory over Espanyol at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat

Victor Valdés 6.1
Minutes played90
Touches27
Passes12
Pass Accuracy75%
Shots Faced2
Saves Made2

Arron says7.0

A quiet night for Valdés in the Barcelona goal, who was predictably impressive on the rare occasions that Espanyol did force him into action. As per usual, his passing was good – and Valdés even collected a potentially dangerous cross as well to secure his eighth clean sheet of this La Liga season, and 11th overall (in all competitions).

Dani Alves 6.9
Minutes played90
Touches116
Passes66
Pass Accuracy83%
Key Passes3
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Tackles6
Interceptions1
Turnovers2
Fouls Won2

Arron says7.5

Dani Alves missed last weekend’s win over Real Valladolid through injury, and only received the medical green light to return to action on Sunday morning – but it was impossible to tell from his performance at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat. Alves was dominant at both ends of the field, completing a team-high six tackles and creating a number of chances for his teammates. If not for Villa’s profligacy in front of goal, the Brazilian would have certainly registered an assist – no wonder Martin Montoya has to settle for a place on the Barça bench.

Gerard Pique 6.4
Minutes played90
Touches68
Passes57
Pass Accuracy89%
Tackles3
Interceptions0
Clearances7

Arron says7.0

Another solid display from Piqué, who appears to be back to his best another relatively inconsistent season with the Blaugrana. While the statistics dictate that Piqué and Mascherano don’t necessarily form the best partnership (this was the first La Liga clean sheet that the two have managed as Barcelona’s starting centre-half partnership since Barça’s 1-0 win over Valencia, way back in September 2012), it’s clear to see that Piqué enjoys playing alongside the Argentine, and who knows? Maybe that will be a factor as the Blaugrana finally looks set to address their defensive frailties this off-season.

Javier Mascherano 6.9
Minutes played90
Touches50
Passes38
Pass Accuracy87%
Tackles2
Interceptions4
Clearances6

Arron says7.5

Speaking of Mascherano, I couldn’t find a fault in his performance on Sunday. Not only did Mascherano make a number of crucial interceptions, but he also got into the thick of the action, winning the ball from the Espanyol attack in typically bruising fashion.

Jordi Alba 7.0
Minutes played90
Touches128
Passes89
Pass Accuracy91%
Key Passes0
Tackles2
Interceptions6
Turnovers4
Clearances1

Arron says7.0

Jordi Alba had the most touches of any Barcelona player on Sunday – far more than Dani Alves did on the right-hand side of defense for example – yet, I struggled to think of a single moment where the Catalan full-back stood out. Perhaps that’s a blessing in disguise? While Alves takes a few risks, and ultimately makes the difference on the opposite flank, we have Alba making all the right moves on the other – providing some much needed stability to our defense.

Alex Song 7.3
Minutes played90
Touches96
Passes83
Pass Accuracy94%
Tackles1
Interceptions5
Fouls Won1
Turnovers3

Arron says7.5

A week ago, Sergio Busquets returned to the starting XI, and went on to dominate the midfield against mid-table Real Valladolid. If not for a late penalty from Victor Perez, the Blaugrana would have surely secured a comfortable 2-0 victory – and just one week later, Busquets returned to the bench, while Alex Song went on to dominate the midfield against mid-table Espanyol. This time round, Barcelona did keep a clean sheet – and while Song isn’t Busquets, he has proved that he can still be a valuable member of our midfield.

Thiago Alcântara 7.2
Minutes played90
Touches116
Passes98
Pass Accuracy85%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Turnovers4
Key Passes1
Tackles4
Aerial Duels Won5 (71%)
Successful Dribbles4

Arron says8.5

As if we needed any more proof that Barcelona need to do all in their power to keep Thiago, the young midfielder goes out and gives us a performance like this. As much as Song anchored the midfield, it was Thiago who made the difference on Sunday – excelling in each and every facet of the game. You need someone to pass the ball? Thiago is your man. You need to someone to win the ball? Thiago is your man. You need someone to compete in the air? I’m sure you get the picture. Of course, Thiago isn’t quite the finished article just yet – he still loses possession more often than we are used to seeing from a Barcelona midfielder for example – but he does that innate ability to simply take over a game, and as long as he is patient, it won’t be long before he takes over the Barça midfield.

Andrés Iniesta 7.4
Minutes played84
Touches125
Passes111
Pass Accuracy90%
Shots/Shots on Target1/0
Fouls Won1
Turnovers4
Key Passes0
Successful Dribbles2

Arron says7.0

In fact, one could even argue that Thiago even upstaged Andrés Iniesta on Sunday. It’s not that Iniesta didn’t play well, but it seemed as though he was lacking that something extra; that cutting edge he usually brings to the Barça midfield. There were moments of brilliance – his 44th minute shot for instance – but for the most part, Iniesta looked to be going through the motions, which is understandable given the amount of minutes he has played this season (and indeed given the amount of minutes he will be expected to play in the Confederations Cup).

Alexis Sánchez 8.1
Minutes played84
Touches70
Passes44
Pass Accuracy80%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Fouls Won3
Successful Dribbles2
Key Passes0
Turnovers12
Tackles5

Arron says7.5

With Neymar set to join this summer, there is only one place up for grabs in the Barcelona attack, and judging by the last few weeks, it’s going to go to Alexis Sánchez. His close control and an explosive turn of pace created the first goal on Sunday; it’s just a shame that Alexis didn’t have any more chances to add to his tally. While David Villa was struggling to find the target, Alexis was 100% in front of goal. One shot, one goal – that’s exactly the kind of productivity we need from whoever Tito chooses to partner Messi and Neymar next season. He does lose half a mark for all those turnovers though.

Cesc Fàbregas 6.7
Minutes played90
Touches109
Passes89
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target3/0
Fouls Won3
Successful Dribbles0
Key Passes0
Turnovers4

Arron says7.0

Not bad, but not great from Cesc Fàbregas, who came within inches of notching his fourteenth goal of the season in the 32nd minute. Despite seeing a lot of the ball, Cesc never really made an impact – and at times was guilty of over-thinking things. For example, should he have really gone for a spectacular overhead kick in the first half, and should he have passed up what could have been a golden opportunity in the second half when Dani Alves cut the ball back to him, in space on the edge of the area?

David Villa 6.0
Minutes played71
Touches26
Passes16
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target3/1
Fouls Won2
Key Passes2
Successful Dribbles1
Turnovers3

Arron says6.5

I suppose the best strikers can still find other ways to influence the game, even when they are struggling in front of goal, and Villa is no exception. His shot was desperately off on Sunday – of his three shots, one went embarrassingly wide, another went into the stands, while the other was saved comfortably by Victor Alvarez – but he did set up Alexis Sánchez’ opener and also provided the pass for Iniesta’s effort on the 44th minute.

Pedro Rodriguez 7.0
Minutes played19
Touches17
Passes14
Pass Accuracy79%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1

Arron says7.0

Alexis Sánchez may be favourite to claim that final starting berth next season, but we can never rule out Pedro, who scored his second goal in as many games in a 20 minute cameo appearance on Sunday.

Xavi Hernandez 7.0
Minutes played6
Touches16
Passes15
Pass Accuracy100%
Key Passes1

Arron says7.0

And who else would set Pedro up for that crucial goal but Xavi? Even in less than ten minutes on the field, Xavi still found time to create a goal – and complete 100% of his 15 attempted passes.

Cristian Tello 5.5
Minutes played6
Touches4
Passes3
Pass Accuracy100%

Arron saysN/A

Tello came off the bench at the same time as Xavi, and barely saw a touch of the ball in that time.

The Team 7.6
Passes771
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target10/4
Tackles27
Aerial Battles Won54%
Fouls Won/Committed13/10

Arron says8.0

Another game, another win; meaning that Barcelona are just three points away from equalling the points record set by Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid just a season ago. This was probably the best performance from the Blaugrana since those infamous defeats to Bayern Munich, although they will still need to improve before next weekend, as Barça prepare to host Malaga (who are fighting to keep hold of 6th place) at the Camp Nou.

Tito Vilanova 6.6

Arron says7.5

Sure, we can all criticise Vilanova for not starting the likes of Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya, but can we really complain with the final result? Another comfortable win over our city rivals, with one of our best prospects playing the full 90 minutes, not to mention goals from both Pedro and Alexis Sánchez (for the first time since Barcelona’s 7-0 win over Rayo Vallecano in April 2012) – that’s good enough for me.

MOTM - Alexis 55%

Arron saysAlexis

Alexis deservedly scooped the MoTM award for Sunday's match - after all, it was his opening goal that sent the Blaugrana on their way to 31st victory of this La Liga season.

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