With the new season comes the return of an old feature – the Barça Blaugranes Community Player Ratings. Previously, the ratings have been inconsistently posted throughout the season – but after a change of tactics, they’re back and better than ever. Above there is a gallery of photos from last night’s game bringing you the close-ups of yesterday’s action, capturing the emotion of the players and the manager, while below, we have the player ratings themselves.
Unlike previous seasons, the team has been divided into four sections, with a different Barça Blaugranes author responsible for each section. Site manager Bostjan Cernensek reviews the defense (and Victor Valdés), staff writer Sam Cooper analyses the midfield, editor Inder Methil looks at the attack, while Arron Duckling assesses the "rest".
We all hope you enjoy the new format!
I'm pretty sure Valdes wouldn't mind more games like this one. The Barcelona shot-stopper had virtually nothing to do the entire game. He did show that he remained concentrated the whole 92 minutes as he made his only save of the match in the very last minute of added time. For what it's worth Valdes did end the game with a 100% passing success, completing all seven passes he attempted, including two long passes.
Shots/Shots on Target1/1
Alves was his usual self in the season opener, spending more time in the attacking third than in the defensive zone. He was rewarded for his time on offense in the 24th minute when he first played a large role in the goal's buildup and in the end found himself in the right spot to tap the ball into the open net. His passing was very accurate and he even managed to send an accurate cross into the box. Of all Barcelona defenders Alves was the least involved on defense, but he still managed to make a play or two.
Shots/Shots on Target3/1
Aerial Duels Won5
This was the type of play we want to see from Pique more often this season. Pique was strong in defense, making several good tackles, including one deep in Levante's territory to prevent what would've been a dangerous counter attack with Alves straying up the pitch. The most impressive part of Pique's game, however, was his air game where he only lost one of six duels. With the score out of reach Pique started venturing forward a lot trying to score a goal himself. In the end he didn't accomplish that, but it wasn't for the lack of trying as he fired three shots.
Aerial Duels Won3
As the deepest lying defender Mascherano didn't have to endure a lot of pressure, but it's not like he was bored back there either. On numerous occasions he showed that he does everything professionally and he won't try to make a flashy play to get out of danger (like certain defenders *cough* Pique *cough*) but will go the no nonsense way to get out of trouble. Mascherano was a calming influence throughout and basically didn't put a foot wrong the entire game. He did allow two shots to opposing players he was covering, but his coverage was good enough that neither of them went on target.
Shots/Shots on Target2/2
Like his compatriot on the right side of the defensive line Adriano too was very involved in the attacking phase of the game. He was constantly moving up and down the left side and was often a threat for the opposing backline - Adriano even won a penalty kick for Barcelona. However, Adriano's defensive game didn't suffer because of his involvement in the attacking phase of the game. He showed that nicely early in the first half when he tracked back in full speed to intercept a through ball.
The pivot of the team didn’t have many defensive duties to focus on as Levante rarely posed an attacking threat but Busquets, as usual, passed well and helped to start Barcelona’s attacks if needed. With the same percentage as Xavi, 96% of Busquets passes reached their intended target but the number 16 had a relatively quiet opening game and can expect a bigger test against Atlético Madrid midweek.
Shots/Shots on Target4/2
The Barça veteran had another solid game in the heart of the midfield. As typical of the Barcelona vice-captain, his passing was his highlight with 96% of his attempted passes reaching their intended target. With an even share of passes in the attacking third and the middle third, Xavi played deeper then Fàbregas but still had his fair share of shots, two of which hit the target. The World Cup winner managed to get his name on the score sheet as well, linking with Cesc before an unconventional toe-poke past the keeper to score Barcelona’s sixth of the night.
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Cesc Fàbregas had arguably his best game in a Barcelona shirt against Levante, putting a firm end to any suggestion that he is not a vital part of the team. Directly involved in five of the seven goals and assisting three times, Fàbregas played with a calm head throughout the match and twice showed a unselfish side of his play by choosing to square the ball to a teammate instead of shooting himself. His passing too reached the heights of his teammates Iniesta and Xavi, passing 86 times with 71 of those passes successful, giving him a pass success rate of 83%. Reflective of his game, Fàbregas majority of passes were forward passes and that helped him to create six chances. Overall a very strong game for the Barça number 4.
Shots/Shots on Target2/1
The goal itself might have been a tap - in, but make no mistake, it was a result of Alexis' ability to recognize when to make a run and make himself available. The last two seasons have been a roller coaster ride for the Chilean but there were certain aspects of his game he kept even when he couldn't buy a goal to save his life. (1) Intelligently curved runs, helped by his explosive pace, to either drag defenders out of position so that he could create space for Messi or to be on the receiving end of a pass. (2) Hard work in defense.
This new, all conquering Alexis has given us a glimpse of his talent. In addition to the runs, Alexis was willing to take defenders on, dribble when necessary and moreover, successfully keep possession when pressured as opposed to slipping (as was common last season).
Shots/Shots on Target6/4
Have we seen Messi have a better game? Yes, quite a few times in fact. However, considering how awesome Barca were against Levante and that I would probably rate all our players at least 8 and above, it was only fair that Messi get a 10 for the following reasons:
(1) 2 Goals(duh)
Shots/Shots on Target3/2
If scoring goals isn't enough of a sign that a player is high on confidence, then how about link up play and clever runs? Pedro has been a revelation during the pre-season and continued his form to help Barca pick up 3 points. A combination of goals, turbocharged runs and hard work in defense was more than enough to remind us just how awesome Pedrito can be. At this rate, nobody can be sure who will our starting wingers will be this season.
Shots/Shots on Target0/0
Perhaps this wasn’t the competitive debut that some were expecting, but Neymar must be happy with his contributions off the bench in Barça’s comfortable win. His passing was crisp, and his innate ability to escape opposition defenders is simply mesmerising. Welcome to the team Neymar!
Iniesta’s late cameo appearance allowed Lionel Messi a rare opportunity to rest, and indirectly helped the Blaugrana add yet another goal to their lead, as Iniesta’s foul led to Hector Rodas’ clumsy back-pass. Much like Neymar, Don Andrés is more than capable of evading opposing challenges – can you imagine the partnership that these two magicians might form on the left-hand side of the Barcelona attack?
Shots/Shots on Target1/0
Cristian Tello didn’t see much game-time off the bench, but the signs were encouraging for the Spanish winger, who worked himself into the ground to help the team – regardless of the score. Eager to impress, Tello continued Barcelona’s high press and was hungry to add another goal to the scoresheet – although he couldn’t direct his shot on target.
Shots/Shots on Target22/13
Aerial Battles Won50%
After a sensational first-half display saw the Blaugrana smash six goals past their bewildered visitors, it’s safe to say that we witnessed a performance that was close to perfection. From their above average passing accuracy (92%) to their chance conversion rate (54%), Barcelona excelled in each and every aspect in the game, making Levante look like amateurs by comparison. If we can keep up this kind of pressure, tempo and movement, it’s hard to imagine that the rest of La Liga stands much of a chance.
As Barcelona’s third coach in three seasons, Gerardo Martino was under a lot of pressure headed into yesterday’s match – but he delivered on every front. His team selection was brilliant, his tactics were perfect and his squad management wasn’t bad either – the only criticism one might have is the timing and relative "lateness" of his substitutions given the nature of the scoreline.
|MOTM - Fabregas||65%|
Amassing 65% of the vote, Cesc Fabregas claimed a deserved Man of the Match award ahead of usual winner Lionel Messi.