La Liga: Malaga CF 0-1 FC Barcelona: Player Ratings

A detailed, player-by-player breakdown of Barcelona's 1-0 La Liga win over Malaga CF at La Rosaleda on Sunday night

Victor Valdés 8.3
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 24
Passes: 9
Pass Accuracy: 78%
Shots Faced: 3
Saves Made: 3

Jordan says: 8.5

My personal man of the match, Barcelona’s number one was absolutely fantastic on the night. Facing a scrappy and surprisingly dangerous Malaga side, VV again showed why he’s so undeserving of the criticism he receives, and why he’s one of the world’s most underrated keepers. Confident, composed, and acrobatic, Valdes completed a higher percentage of his passes than all but four of Malaga’s players at a stunning 78%, and made three pivotal saves to keep the clean sheet. Besides an excellent stop at his near post on a free kick early on, Victor denied a point blank header in stoppage time and the follow up shot in expert fashion. His only blemish was a somewhat erratic commitment to a streaking Roque Santa Cruz, who put the Barca stopper on his back before crossing to Fabrice, who, luckily, sent his rushed shot off the post. Overall, VV gave a performance which should remind all fans how difficult he’ll be to replace come next season.

Adriano Correia 8.0
Minutes played: 45
Touches: 54
Passes: 32
Pass Accuracy: 81%
Key Passes: 1
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/1
Tackles: 1
Interceptions: 2
Turnovers: 3
Fouls Won: 0

Jordan says: 7.5

In a nutshell, this was a classic Adriano game which showed Cules just how much the Brazilian can contribute and how much he can’t contribute. Getting the rare start at right back, Adriano began strongly. Composed in the tackle, he covered well for Pique, while offering reliable associative play in the offensive end. While not possessing the outrageous pace of Alba, Adriano put in a solid shift until late in the first half, when, after receiving a back pass from Alexis Sanchez, the former Sevilla man did what he’s done on numerous occasions: deftly touching the ball to his left foot, he unleashed a curving strike that dipped under the diving Willy Caballero and nestled itself in the far corner of the net. The eventual game winner was a gem of a goal which solidifies Adriano as one of the few fullbacks in world football capable of cutting inside and shooting with their off foot. Unfortunately, as Cules are also used to, Adriano was forced off at half time due to the dreaded "thigh discomfort."

Gerard Pique 6.2
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 90
Passes: 77
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Tackles: 4
Interceptions: 0
Clearances: 4
Aerial Duels Won: 2

Jordan says: 7.0

Largely unspectacular, Pique put together a solid performance which did what was needed. Heading a number of crosses clear at the back, Geri also made four tackles. For the most part, he was impressive stepping forward and, along with his partner Mascherano, initiated attacks from the back with precision. While he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory on a few occasions -- namely a Santa Cruz run which exposed the defense and failure to deal with an uncontested header in stoppage time -- this type of performance is what Barca needs from Pique this season. He picked up no cards, was capable in dealing with attacks, passed well, was strong aerially, and didn’t injure himself. The only negatives were a few silly dispossessions when dwelling on the ball going forward and his low aerial success rate in the offensive end.

Javier Mascherano 7.3
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 98
Passes: 92
Pass Accuracy: 91%
Tackles: 2
Interceptions: 1
Clearances: 2
Key Passes: 2
Aerial Duels Won: 0

Jordan says: 7.5

After a relatively poor prior year, and no defensive reinforcements in the summer, the current season will be a huge test for the Argentine converted defensive midfielder. Tasked with shouldering much of the team’s defensive responsibility until Carles Puyol returns from injury, if Mascherano keeps up this kind of form Barca should look elsewhere on the back line for reinforcements. Mascherano was largely perfect on the evening, covering swiftly for Jordi Alba’s rampages forward and snuffing out counter attacks (one in the 35th in particular was artfully dealt with as Pique was caught upfield), before initiating attacks with long diagonals to the wingers. A tactical feature under new coach ‘Tata’ Martino has seen increasing involvement from both center backs in building attacks, rather than Iniesta and Xavi picking up the balls in deep locations. Mascherano was brilliant both offensively and defensively, although lost a bit of concentration in the final ten minutes. Coming off a MOTM performance against Atleti, it’s clear ‘Machete’s’ good form wasn’t a fluke.

Jordi Alba 5.7
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 93
Passes: 66
Pass Accuracy: 95%
Key Passes: 2
Tackles: 3
Interceptions: 0
Turnovers: 2
Fouls Won: 0
Clearances: 4

Jordan says: 6.5

Arguably the most frustrating player currently wearing Blaugrana, Alba is the victim of being a fantastic player poorly suited both tactically and physically to this year’s Barca squad. On the night, Alba could best be called inconsistent. His classic runs forward were incredible, and his sheer pace and quickness were always a danger to Malaga’s defense. The unfortunate part is at the other end, where a defender must, you know, defend. Alba was frequently caught out high up the field, specifically early on when Iniesta was unusually dispossessed. The ‘Flying Squirrel’ was also responsible for giving up a silly foul resulting in a free kick; fortunately dealt with by Victor Valdes with a diving stop. While these were dealt with (usually by a covering Mascherano), Jordi almost let the three points slip away in stoppage time, gifting Malaga with sloppy possession play twice in the span of only a few seconds. That said, no one can doubt his energy in the press, ability to intercept, and excellence on the overlap.

Alex Song 6.0
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 72
Passes: 61
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Tackles: 3
Interceptions: 1
Fouls Won: 0
Fouls: 3
Turnovers: 1

Sam says: 8.0

Filling in Sergio Busquets’ traditional role, Alex Song impressed in areas not always shown by Busquets. Song presented a much stronger attacking threat and had he produced a better cross, he may have had an assist in the second half when he sprung clear of Malaga’s offside trap. The ex-Arsenal man also troubled the Malaga goal early on, with a powerful header from a corner that was aimed straight at Willy Caballero. On the defensive side, Song also had a good game. Tracking runs and making strong tackles meant Malaga rarely threatened the Barcelona goal for the majority of the match. One downside to his game is his inability to judge the game as well as Busquets but overall a good night for Song.

Xavi 6.4
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 109
Passes: 92
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/1
Turnovers:4
Key Passes: 5
Fouls Won: 1

Sam says: 7.5

Similar to Iniesta, Xavi was allowed room in Malaga’s half allowing for a greater control of the game. Stereotypically, Xavi’s passing was the highlight of his game, tying with Mascherano for most passes completed, although Xavi would like to have been more of an attacking presence. The Barça number six did manage a shot on target but lacked when it came to getting close to a goal scoring opportunity, perhaps a sign of fatigue after playing three games in a row. The veteran midfielder preferred his quarterback role, dictating play from further back and almost filling in for the lack of Sergio Busquets as the pivot. Having started the last three games, it’s quite likely that we will see Xavi benched for the Supercopa.

Andrés Iniesta 6.5
Minutes played: 83
Touches: 96
Passes: 75
Pass Accuracy: 96%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/1
Fouls Won: 3
Turnovers: 1
Key Passes: 0
Successful Dribbles: 6
Tackles: 1

Sam says: 8.0

Having more space to roam than during the match midweek against Atletico, meant Iniesta had a greater influence on the game and finished with the highest pass completion rate of the starting eleven. The Barcelona number eight showed a strong attacking side to his game, using his trademark close control to weave past Malaga defenders before looking to play the likes of Pedro or Alexis in. Iniesta also had a shot of his own saved during the first half, a side-footed effort from outside the area which in the end was conformably saved. Perhaps unconventionally, Iniesta favoured a few long ball passes over short passes tonight and these diagonal lobs proved an effective way of introducing Alexis and Pedro to the game. A solid night for Iniesta who will now be hoping he can produce the same kind of performance midweek.

Alexis Sánchez 7.0
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 48
Passes: 33
Pass Accuracy: 76%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/1
Fouls Won: 5
Successful Dribbles: 0
Key Passes: 1
Turnovers: 1
Tackles: 4

Arron says: 7.5

It seems as though history repeated itself on Sunday, as Alexis Sánchez was once again Barcelona’s best attacking threat up until the introduction of Neymar. His hard-work and close control enabled Alexis to both regain possession, and draw free-kicks from the Malaga defense, who were lucky to finish with eleven players on the field. Technically, we have to credit Alexis with an assist for Adriano’s goal, although the clear highlight for the Chilean was his close-range header, which was well saved by Willy Caballero.

Cesc Fabregas 7.6
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 75
Passes: 56
Pass Accuracy: 77%
Shots/Shots on Target: 4/2
Fouls Won: 1
Successful Dribbles: 3
Key Passes: 1
Turnovers: 3

Arron says: 7.0

This was a much better performance from Cesc Fàbregas, who clearly needed a game to really get into the groove of playing as Barça’s false nine again. Creatively speaking, Fàbregas was one of our best players (even if the statistics do not reflect that) as it was his cushioned header that nearly provided Alexis with a goal, and it was his slide-rule pass that could have gifted Pedro an opener – if only the #7 could have displayed a better first touch.

Pedro 5.2
Minutes played: 63
Touches: 41
Passes: 35
Pass Accuracy: 94%
Shots/Shots on Target: 0/0
Fouls Won: 0
Key Passes: 0
Successful Dribbles: 0
Turnovers: 1

Arron says: 6.0

A brace in the opening game of the season, and virtually nothing since. Who would have thought that the first three games of the season could sum up Pedro’s career so well? He works hard and provides glimpses of excellence (his run for that chance, ably claimed by Caballero and another intelligent run after a great reverse pass to Alba) but these glimpses didn’t amount to anything – and again, Neymar displayed a lot more, in a whole lot less time.

Dani Alves 5.8
Minutes played: 45
Touches: 35
Passes: 18
Pass Accuracy: 78%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/1
Key Passes: 0
Clearances: 4
Turnovers: 1

Jordan says: 6.5

Subbed on for the injured Adriano, Alves put in a standard performance with exactly one foul, one dribble won, and one shot...thing. Alves did make a good acrobatic clearance, but overall there’s very little to say on him. Another performance from the Brazilian who started a rare match on the bench.

Neymar 7.2
Minutes played: 27
Touches: 21
Passes: 13
Pass Accuracy: 77%
Successful Dribbles: 2
Fouls Won: 3
Shots/Shots on Target: 3/1
Turnovers: 1

Arron says: 7.5

It’s ironic that so many were slightly opposed to the deal – both towards the player and the amount paid for his services – yet just three games into the season, those same people are already "converted". They’ve seen the light – even in small cameo appearances, Neymar has been dazzling the crowds and Barça fans watching all across the world – and relative to his minutes played, he’s arguably the most-fouled player in La Liga too.

Sergi Roberto 5.9
Minutes played: 7
Touches: 6
Passes: 5
Pass Accuracy: 100%

Arron says: N/A

Sergi Roberto played less than ten minutes and barely saw a touch of the ball; it would hardly be fair to give him a full rating.

The Team 6.3
Passes: 702
Pass Accuracy: 90%
Shots/Shots on Target: 15/11
Tackles: 20
Aerial Battles Won: 31%
Fouls Won/Committed: 14/12

Arron says: 7.5

At the end of the day, Barcelona did enough to secure the three points and that’s all that matters. These three points are worth exactly the same as the three points earned in that sensational 7-0 win over Levante, and ensure that Barça keep their place at the top of La Liga. The defending wasn’t excellent, but Valdés’ goalkeeping was; the midfield wasn’t overly creative, but they were at least effective and well, at least there’s room for (Brazillian?) improvement in the front-line. Sometimes, you just have to grind out a win.

Gerardo Martino 6.2

Arron says: 7.0

Martino has been criticised for his team selection – and yes, the reasoning behind this criticism is relatively sound. Xavi could perhaps do with a rest (five key passes argues otherwise) and maybe starting Fàbregas at false nine isn’t the best move – but what does it matter? Barcelona got the win, and that’s all that really counts.

MOTM - Valdes 34%

Arron says: Adriano

With over a third of the vote, Victor Valdes claimed his first Man of the Match Award of the season, ahead of both the goal-scorer Adriano (25%) and Cesc Fabregas (23%).

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Barca Blaugranes

You must be a member of Barca Blaugranes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Barca Blaugranes. You should read them.

Join Barca Blaugranes

You must be a member of Barca Blaugranes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Barca Blaugranes. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker