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La Liga: FC Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Bilbao: Player Ratings

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Editor's note: As I (Arron) mentioned yesterday, we have a new system for the player ratings, one which involves you the reader as much as possible. The previous format was/is great, but how can it be fair that only one person gets to really have their opinion heard? So, after a recommendation from our moderator, Al Benson, we have this brilliant new format, which was graciously shared by Graham MacAree of We Ain't Got No History. Expect some changes in the future as we get to grips with the format and manipulate it slightly, but make sure you leave your comments below. Do you like the new format and is there anything we should strive to include to improve it further? We want to hear from you!

In case you didn't vote this time around, the voting form will always be added to the end of the Match Review, and voting runs from the publish of the given Match Review, for between 18-24 hours. Furthermore, the format allows multiple responses, so if you vote straight after the game when emotions are running high, but want to vote again 12 hours later once you have seen a re-run of the match, that's fine.

Now, without further ado, enjoy Guidance's analysis and the new format!

Victor Valdes 6.4
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy74%
Shots Faced4
Saves Made0

Guidance says6.5
It was a characteristically quiet day for Victor, with the opposition squandering every chance they had to play the ball closer to his area. He distributed the ball well to his teammates with both short and long passes. He was almost humiliated as De Marcos and Muniain combined well to beat him from close range, but Pique was there to save his colleague some blushes as he was fast to scoop the ball off the line and out of danger. He will be seriously tested in the quarter-final decider against Milan and history is on his side to step-up his game and cancel out everything Milan throws at him.

Dani Alves 7.1
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy83%
Shots/Shots on Target2/1

Guidance says7.0

It was not a bad day for Dani, though he was a little quieter than his usual self. He combined well with his teammates and unleashed a powerful long range shot to draw an equally top of the line save from Iraizoz just around the first 5 min of the game. He was involved a few minutes later to set-up Thiago for a goal that was ‘correctly’ ruled out for offside. He neutralized a lot of Bilboa attacks, and won a couple of games too to combine with the rest of the back line to limit their opponent to just one shot on target. He was also always open for a pass in attack even though most of his final passes could have been better.

Gerard Pique 8.2
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy88%
Shots/Shots on Target3/2
Shots Blocked3

Guidance says8.0
He was all over the pitch in this game, he was hungry for the ball and it showed. He didn’t connect well with the ball on the 5th min as his shot from close range off an Alves rebound went over the bar but that didn’t slow him down. He was a serious attacking threat for the majority of the game and his shot from a brilliant Messi cross was superbly cleared off the line by Aurtenetxe and spoiled it for some of his teammates who had already started to celebrate. His aerial ability is improving too as won a lot of dangerous high balls from Bilbao, most were interceptions and one was notably from a corner kick on the 20th min. He could a done better when a Messi cross found him unmarked in the box on the 69th but his header was too weak to trouble the goal keeper. He had one more good chance on the 79th min and his cross to Messi, who was open in the box, was over hit and he was back in defense less than a minute later to clear a ball off the line and kill Bilbao’s hopes of a comeback.

Javier Mascherano 7.7
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy83%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Shots Blocked0

Guidance says7.5

There is something wonderful the Argentine has been building about his style of play in the Blaugrana setup for the past few games. He is playing his game a little higher than he normally did whenever he started from the back. He had the Pique-tendency to just take the ball from deep in defense and make a long run until he gets to the final third of the pitch. It always helps to build play from the back against high pressing opponent, a tactic employed by most opponents nowadays. He pressed well for the ball and there were a few tackles only him and Puyol can master. His passes were very good too and he’ll definitely be in shape to face Milan in a few days.

Adriano 6.9
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy87%
Shots/Shots on Target2/1

Guidance says6.5

The Brazilian had a quiet game and was not too involved in the game’s action. There were very few attacks from Bilbao on his area of work and he also was not attacking as much as he usually does. He was however at Valdes’ disposal to receive passes whenever the opposition tried to press him and his shot on the 44th min gets credit for effort even though the goalkeeper had no trouble saving it. Here’s to hoping he remains fit for the rest of the season, he’ll certainly be very useful.

Sergio Busquets 7.5
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy90%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1

Guidance says7.0

Busi was superb as usual, bossing the transition between defense and attack. He was very mobile during the game as he retrieved, played and distributed the ball. His passes were of their usual quality as he helped initiate attacks from deep and most counter attacking moves were started by him. He’ll rule this position in the Blaugrana colors for a long time and age is on his side.

Thiago Alcantara 7.9
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy89%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Successful Dribbles2

Guidance says7.0

The young Spanish international had a very good game proving to some of his doubters that he is one for the future as he builds a name for himself in the Blaugrana colors. His goal on the 7th min was correctly ruled for offside. He did lose his fair share of possession but made it up with almost everything he was involved in. He was very good defensively and helped a lot in neutralizing Bilbao’s attacks. His dribbling across the box opened space enough for him to unleash a very good pass to Iniesta on the 23rd min that could have resulted in a goal had it not been for the latter’s first touch that let him down. He also had the chance to ease everyone’s nerves as he made a life-saving clearance in the box during a scramble. Some think he might start against Milan; I can’t wait to find out.

Andres Iniesta 8.0
Minutes played76
Pass Accuracy84%
Shots/Shots on Target3/3
Successful Dribbles2

Guidance says7.5

If you compare his performance in this game to the one in the previous game, you’ll be forgiven for suggest that he looked like a completely different player. He was back to his usual position in midfield as opposed to the unfavorable wing in which he was deployed, and he was at his brilliant best. He combined well with teammates in midfield, especially with Thiago, as he dribbled, exchanged one-twos and created chances for the team. He forced a powerful fingertip save from the keeper on the 28th min and then went on to score a magnificent goal 10 min later from close range off a move started by Sanchez and assisted by Messi. He still had the chance to force another save from a shot that first deflected off Messi and won a corner on the 68th min before being substituted on the 77th min to be replaced by his long time partner Xavi.

Cristian Tello 6.4
Minutes played62
Pass Accuracy81%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Fouls Won1
Successful Dribbles0
Key Passes2

Guidance says6.0
He didn’t have a good game the speedy winger and the decision to start him was probably not the best. His skill is sometimes very predictable and it showed as the defender got the better of him on the 29th min and for the majority of his time in the field. He was easily dispossessed and the few times when he got the chance to cross, like in the 39th min, it was very poor. He had his trademark curling shot saved from close range on the 55th min but he saved the team some blushes as he won a penalty that resulted in the 2nd goal on the 58th min after he was fouled by Martinez in the box. He left the pitch on the 62nd min to be replaced by Pedro.

Lionel Messi 7.8
Minutes played90
Pass Accuracy78%
Shots/Shots on Target6/4
Fouls Won2
Successful Dribbles3
Key Passes5

Guidance says7.5

It was not a performance to remember for Leo but was still very decisive nonetheless. Bielsa had a strong tactic to neutralize him; there were always around three players keeping an eye on him with or without the ball and it looked to frustrate him at times. He still managed to have shots saved or blocked sending in a dangerous free kick in the process. His crosses remind you of the position he called his own prior to the central role he plays now. He added to his long list of assists this season as he put Iniesta through for the first goal and he got himself on the score sheet as well on the 58th min off a perfectly timed penalty won by Tello. Everyone, who’s got nothing to do with Milan, will be hoping to see an unplayable Messi on Tuesday when the Champions League continues.

Alexis Sanchez 7.4
Minutes played83
Pass Accuracy77%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Fouls Won0
Successful Dribbles1
Key Passes0

Guidance says7.0

He was instantly involved from the beginning of the game as his combination with Messi on the 5th min won the team a corner conceded by the hardworking Javi Martinez. His pressing high up-field helped retrieve possession as soon as it was lost and he was always a threat for Bilbao. He made a very good dribble on the 30th min before dangerously crossing the ball but Martinez was there to deal with it. And then a game changing move came on the 40th min when his pressing allowed him to steal the ball off a Bilbao player before making a pass to Messi who fed it to Iniesta. His frequent runs were always very important even when they didn’t receive the ball in return as he’s always drawing defenders out of position and opening space. He was replaced by Keita late in the game with only 7 min of regulation time remaining. I know he’ll be more than ready to face Milan and hope he improves on his performance against them the previous time.

Pedro 6.3
Minutes played28
Pass Accuracy100%
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Successful Dribbles0

Guidance says6.0

He came in to replace Tello with about half an hour of regulation time remaining. He was energetic and ran fast as he helped press the tired Bilbao players and managed to get himself into the attacking action on the 90th min when his powerful shot hit the keeper or was saved, depending on how you look at it, as he looked to get himself on the scoreboard.

Xavi Hernandez 6.3
Minutes played14
Pass Accuracy91%
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Key Passes1

Guidance says6.5

He came in late for Iniesta and kept this calm as one would expect from him for the remainder of the match. He’s the one who released Pedro free on goal on the 90th minute and it could probably have been excellent had the latter scored.

Seydou Keita 6.0
Minutes played7
Pass Accuracy80%
Shots/Shots on Target1/0

Guidance saysN/A

He replaced Alexis with only 7 min of normal time remaining and still managed to hit the crossbar on the 89th min. His time on the pitch was not enough to earn him a complete rating though.

The Team 8.2
Pass Accuracy85%
Shots/Shots on Target20/14
Aerial Battles Won33%
Fouls Won/Committed14/11

Guidance says7.5

A lot of things can be said about the team’s performance but all points will converge down to one; that the team got the job done. They limited a brilliant Bilbao side to just one shot on target and they could have easily scored more than the two goals. They started the game with a lot of urgency and desire to win but they lost a bit of momentum in the second half as they allowed the Basque side more possession, something which can be very dangerous on another day. The defense was excellent and Thiago, Iniesta and Busquets stood out in midfield but the front men need to seriously step up and finish their chances.

Pep Guardiola 8.1

Guidance says7.5

He made some very good decisions in this game as he rested Xavi and Puyol with an eye on Milan as well as not risking Cesc whom even though it wasn’t serious, was not in the perfect condition to play according to management. His decision to bring Iniesta back into midfield paid off. I was however not impressed by Tello’s performance in the game even though I was in agreement with his inclusion in the team sheet. At least we now know that it might be a big mistake to start him against Milan. It’s going to be a very challenging tactical battle against the Italians and I hope he’ll get everything right and scare off all potential competitors for the title.

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