Victor Valdes 7.0
It happened again for our Spanish shot stopper, he was not challenged in the game. There were a couple of attacks from the opposition but none of them required a world class save. Valdes was there on goal when required: exchanging a lot of touches with his defense and distributing the ball very well. Yet another clean sheet for him at home, here is to hoping he makes it a record.
Daniel Alves 6.0 Yellow 88’
In a team with strong performers, the Brazilian is finding himself in the list of under-performers from the match and it’s not the first time this season. He made a couple of long and short passes but apart from an attacker losing him a couple of times, it is the passes he didn’t make or the ones he squandered that are starting to show a certain unfavorable pattern for 2011, and it’s like he’s getting booked every two games this season. He is still all we’ve got on the right and brilliant on the ball but not the man we’ve all learned to love in the previous seasons.
Gerard Pique 8.0 Yellow 51’
Cules witnessed something amazing last night, it was not the birth of the best defensive partnership in the world but it’s re-emergence. Pique was solid at the back; he undoubtedly takes credit for the team’s clean sheet. He opened the scoring with a well-timed header on the 18th minute from a Xavi free kick and but for his last ditch defending on the 24th minute, Zaragoza might have cancelled his goal and made the game harder. Him and partner Puyol were like Attacking Centre Backs in this game here is hoping they remain fit for the rest of the season.
Carles Puyol 7.5
The Barcelona skipper is back to his usual self and he looks as fit as ever. He reminded people of his abilities in this game and he has a lot of them. Puyol was fantastic in this game both in defense and attack and it’s very difficult to spot a fault in his game. His last ditch clearance on the 50th minute prevented Zaragoza from getting back into the game. So many times we found him causing trouble in the opposition 18 yard box: heading, shooting and passing. But after seeing Pique get a goal, our beloved captain claimed his in the 54’ minute, a goal which showed effort and desire from the Spaniard more than anything. His highlight of fighting spirit was seen on the 66 minute when after losing the ball during an attack, he unleashed un-expected acceleration and showed great speed to reclaim possession. Good stuff captain, good stuff.
The best game he’s had in a while. He doesn’t get to play a full game often and he played well in this one. He was good defensively, stopping a couple of counter attacks from the opposition. It was his performance in attack that brings doubt in the answer to the question of whether he was good or not because he was both. He combined well with attackers like Messi and Sanchez and was unlucky to not have registered an Assist after a wonderful low-cross on the 45th minute was missed by Fabregas on the face of goal. On the other hand, Maxwell had long shots and they were not that great. He had one long shot straight at the keeper on the 32nd minute and his best chance was well wide three minutes later. Good game for the Brazilian.
Seydou Keita 6.5
You have to know what you are looking for in the Malian international because he doesn’t offer what everybody does, he’s different. He is often seen as anonymous but as always, it was the work he did off the ball that gets him credit. His positioning was very good, slowing down opposition attacks and distributing the ball to the closest teammate, he never wastes time on the ball. His thunderous strike on the 20th minute was over the bar and his highlight was the ball he laid down in the making of Carles Puyol’s goal on the 54th minute.
Xavi Hernandez 7.5 Out 55th
He did nothing wrong in this game. He passed the ball and moved, winning it and telepathically telling his teammates when to and attack and when not to. Every single one of Barca’s decent attacks was through the vice-captain and his free kick on the 18th minute for the opening goal was his highlight of the game. He was substituted on the 55th minute for Thiago probably with the Champions league clash with Milan in mid-week in mind.
Isaac Cuenca 9.0 MOTM
Pep is never letting Cuenca go, not with the performances he’s having. Someone please tell me what he did wrong because I can’t seem to find it. He has a lot of confidence for a player who doesn’t have a first team certificate; he too relaxed and seems to play without any fear at all. It’s like he knows that whatever he’s about to do will work and he goes on and leave does a jaw-dropping move. Here it is in a few words: He passes and moves, he beats his marker, runs and cross and his next cross is always the best you’ve seen before. He had an attempted cross blocked on the 72nd minute but he didn’t make any mistake on the 75th minute when Villa found the back of the net from his cross after it bounced of a defender’s leg. He was unlucky not to score from 6 yards on the 90th minute after a fantastic play with Messi and his highlight will be a moment on the 86th minute when he beat two defenders with a 360o that you probably have to go back in time and watch Ronaldinho or Zidane perfect, it even got a deserved replay from the broadcasters.
Cesc Fabregas 7.0
Sometimes you do everything you can and you are still unlucky and that was Fabregas on this game. He showed fantastic positioning in this game, something even the best strikers in the world are usually fighting to perfect, and he’s just a midfielder. Don’t look at the chances he missed, or the shots he hit straight at the keeper, not even the crosses he failed to touch to shift their trajectory into the net, but look at the fact that he was there to for all those things to happen. He Assisted Messi for the second goal on the 43rd minute and was substituted on the 67th minute for David Villa. Let’s not be worried because he will be lucky next time, maybe in a crucial game.
Lionel Messi 8.5
Another day in the office for Messi. After speculations that he might be rested, Messi was there to play the entire game, giving the opposition defense all sorts of troubles. He never walks with the ball, he runs with it right through defenders and shooting or passing it at the end. He missed a lot from close range in this game and Roberto will take credit for stopping him one on one a couple of time. After receiving the ball in the 6 yard box from Cesc on the 43rd minute, he was never going to give Roberto anymore luck from there, he showed great skill too, making it all look simple. There are rumors out there that he’s giving RVP secret lessons, he should probably show him everything. He was unfortunate not to register an assist after laying the ball on the plate for Iniesta on the 73’ minute only for the close range effort to roll inches off target. He is on 50 goals in 50 games in 2011 and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Alexis Sanchez 6.5 Out 55’
The Chilean international had a decent game and is adapting very well in the Blaugrana shirt. To easily spot the deference between a La Masia graduate a new-comer one should compare not the skill but the decisions him and Cuenca make in the game. I didn’t spot a single loss of possession from him and he made a lot of good passes. He tracked back to help Maxwell on the left wing and his crosses were found no one to covert in the box. Cesc should have converted from his pass on the 29th minute. He was substituted on the 55th minute for Iniesta. Alexis is looking very good and time is on his side to succeed in the Blaugrana shirt, I have high hopes for him.
Thiago Alcantara 6.5 In 55’
The talented midfielder came in on the 55th minute and showed it was enough to for him to shine in an already won game. He had a lot of energy running and pressing very hard. He won the team a free kick on the 78th minute and his hard foul on the 84th minute had good intentions written all over it. Good game from Thiago.
Andres Iniesta 6.5 In 55’
Came in for Alexis on the 55th minute and was instantly involved in the game. He provided two good crosses in the space of two minutes around the hour mark but he will probably be disappointed for the chance he slipped inches off target after being played in by the Argentine genius.
David Villa 7.0 In 67’
Zaragoza’s honorable mention
The Spaniard was in fine form, denying Barcelona on more than one occasion. His saves against Messi were reminiscent of Javi Varas against Sevilla, although he could not replicate such heroics in terms of the scoreline