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La Liga: FC Barcelona 3-0 Elche CF: Player Ratings

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A detailed, player-by-player breakdown of Barcelona's opening La Liga round victory over Elche

Denis Doyle

Claudio Bravo
6.5
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 17
Passes: 16
Pass Accuracy: 69%
Shots Faced: 0
Saves Made: 0

Bostjan says: 6.5

Talk about being the forgotten man on the pitch. Bravo barely had to move the entire match, touching the ball only 17 times. He didn’t need to make a single save, not even a punch out. Bravo looked calm on the ball, even when facing pressure, completing 11 of the 16 passes he attempted. Not a very memorable debut for the Chilean even though he picked up his first clean sheet in Blaugrana colors.

Dani Alves
7.1
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 99
Passes: 74
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Key Passes: 0
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/0
Tackles: 3
Aerial Duels Won: 0
Clearances: 0
Fouls: 2
Interceptions: 2

Bostjan says: 7.5

Probably one of the most scrutinized players on the pitch as many were just waiting for Dani to commit a mistake that led to a goal. But that didn’t happen. In fact, Alves surprised many with his improved play. Playing as more of a right midfielder than a right-back, Alves caused a lot of problems to the Elche defense with his constant movement and (mostly) accurate passing. Just after the half-hour mark he even had an excellent chance to score the opening goal after a well-designed set-piece, but his first-time shot missed the target. Unlike last season, Alves also helped out on defense some, although there’s still room for improvement, finishing the game with the second most tackles on the team.

Jeremy Mathieu
7.7
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 101
Passes: 93
Pass Accuracy: 99%
Tackles: 2
Interceptions: 1
Clearances: 1
Aerial Duels Won: 0

Bostjan says: 8.5

As another player making his Barcelona debut, Mathieu showed little nervousness throughout the game. The Barcelona defense might not have been tested much by Elche, but whenever danger approached Mathieu was in the right position. And it has to be said that his tackling technique is textbook. With Alba often staying high up the pitch Mathieu was on a few occasions left all alone covering the left side of the defensive third, but he passed each test with flying colors. If Mathieu continues to play like this he will quickly start winning over all of the skeptics of his transfer.

Javier Mascherano
5.7
Minutes played: 44
Touches: 47
Passes: 45
Pass Accuracy: 91%
Tackles: 1
Interceptions: 1
Clearances: 0
Aerial Duels Won: 0
Fouls: 1

Bostjan says: 6.0

Mascherano had a good game, you know, until he was sent off for a professional foul late in the first half. With nobody expecting the ball to get past Busquets near midfield, Mascherano was the only defender able to prevent Garry Rodrigues from getting one-on-one with Bravo, but being the last man a red card was obligatory as soon as the whistle blew. Even if Rodrigues went down after the very slightest of touches. Outside of that play Mascherano had a solid game, making a couple important stops.

Jordi Alba
7.6
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 102
Passes: 79
Pass Accuracy: 94%
Shots/Shots on Target: 0/0
Tackles: 2
Interceptions: 2
Clearances: 0
Fouls: 1
Key passes: 0

Bostjan says: 8.0

The game started slowly for Alba who was barely noticeable in the opening 15 minutes, but as the game went on the speedster became more and more important to Barcelona’s attacking play. He combined very well on the left side with Munir and Iniesta, and was pressing hard throughout the match. His crossing was excellent as he constantly delivered the ball into the danger area. Even though Alba was positioned high on the left side of the pitch, he rarely forgot about his defensive duties, returning to his left-back position when needed. In the later stages of the game Alba pulled back to help his teammates bring the game to an uneventful end.

Sergio Busquets
7.1
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 103
Passes: 92
Pass Accuracy: 96%
Tackles: 4
Interceptions: 1
Shots/Shots on Target: 0/0
Fouls Won: 2
Aerial Duels Won: 1
Turnovers: 1
Key passes: 2

Sam says: 7.5

Two moments really defined Busquets’ game and they happened to come within seconds of each other. The first was a great assist for Messi’s first goal. While Messi will take the headlines for the incredible dribble that resulted in a goal, it wouldn’t have been possible if Busquets hadn’t found Messi with a slide tackle turned pass. The second moment came soon after the restart. In a rare moment of confusion for Busquets, the pivot attempted a headed clearance without any conviction and that ultimately led to Mascherano’s red. Overall though, a solid opener for Sergio.

Andres Iniesta
8.2
Minutes played: 78
Touches: 125
Passes: 105
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Shots/Shots on Target: 2/0
Turnovers: 2
Key Passes: 3
Successful Dribbles: 5
Tackles: 2

Sam says: 8.5

Another typical Iniesta performance where he shows that natural ability to pop up anywhere on the field, produce a bit of magic and then look to further the attack. Playing his first official game as club vice-captain, the Spaniard dictated the game from the centre of midfield and wasn’t afraid to push on when the opportunity arose. A couple of inches was all that separated him from opening the scoring early in the second half. Picking the ball up on the edge of the area before angling a shot with his weaker foot that deflected off the bar. Exiting the field in the 78th minute, there’s not much more you can say than a Iniesta-level performance.

Ivan Rakitić
8.3
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 130
Passes: 112
Pass Accuracy: 93%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/0
Fouls Won: 0
Tackles: 3
Turnovers: 1
Key Passes: 1
Fouls: 3

Sam says: 8.5

A very impressive competitive debut for Rakitić, acting as if he’d been part of this Barcelona team for years. Surging forward when given the opportunity and being defensively aware to cover Dani Alves’ runs. The Croatian linked well with the front three as well, in particular Messi which shows promise for the upcoming season. Highlight of the game was a beautifully dined pass that, with the aide of a deflection, found Munir for Barça’s second.

Rafinha
6.4
Minutes played: 45
Touches: 32
Passes: 25
Pass Accuracy: 96%
Shots/Shots on Target: 0/0
Turnovers: 2
Successful Dribbles: 0
Key Passes: 1
Tackles: 1
Fouls Won: 1

Ahmed says: 6.5

Flair, a strong work ethic and great physical attributes makes it clear to see why he is a favourite of Luis Enrique. On his debut for Barcelona’s first team in a competitive game, he had a solid game. Rafinha only lasted for 45 minutes in a forced change as a result of Mascherano’s sending off. Perhaps tried to do too much early on but he combined well with Messi throughout. He passed well and his first touch was something to behold. He played with intensity. Not many chances, but no real end product displayed tonight either. Somewhat faded as the half went on but a good debut, nonetheless.

Lionel Messi
9.4
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 89
Passes: 58
Pass Accuracy: 84%
Shots/Shots on Target: 3/2
Fouls Won: 4
Successful Dribbles: 7
Key Passes: 3
Turnovers: 3
Tackles: 3

Ahmed says: 9.5

With the notable absentees in attack, all eyes (and expectations) were on Lionel Messi. And boy did he deliver. A constant threat. He consistently turned the opposing defenders inside out and provided some brilliant balls from deep. Great balance, acceleration and controlling the attacks like few can. He looked really hungry and energetic. The intensity was refreshing. Amazing work ethic with his tracking back.  For his first super goal, it was classic Messi. A brilliant first touch, turn and then a brilliant strike to the bottom corner, six players could do nothing about it. He also beat a good number for his second goal, absolutely fantastic. A superb display and all you could expect from a number 10, he produced chances as well as finished them. He was clinical and displayed wizardry at its best. We are only one game in and the superlatives are already running out. Somewhat surprisingly, with this being only his first competitive game of the season, he is back to his spectacular best and even with so many top performances in the team, still easily the best player on the pitch.

Munir El Haddadi
8.5
Minutes played: 67
Touches: 32
Passes: 22
Pass Accuracy: 77%
Shots/Shots on Target: 2/1
Fouls: 2
Key Passes: 0
Successful Dribbles: 0
Turnovers: 4

Ahmed says: 9.0

Munir was another debutant. It sure did not look like it. This time last year, Munir had just been promoted to the club's Juvenil A team. It is no coincidence that he finished as the top goalscorer of the pre-season. Given his chance due to the absence of Neymar, Pedro and Suarez, he did not disappoint. He also combined well with Messi throughout and twisted and turned brilliantly early on for a rocket of a strike which ended up hitting the crossbar. He showed his inexperience when he overplayed a pass when through on goal in the first half. Munir's pressing was fantastic. He displayed an outstanding finish for his goal with a one-touch flicked finish, something Messi would have been proud of. Remember the name because Munir El Haddadi is a star of the future.  As mentioned elsewhere, Munir has the potential to become like Pedro in defense and Rivaldo in attack. A wonderful La Liga debut, indeed a dream debut. A star has been born. A deserved standing ovation when he was subbed off on the 67th minute.

Marc Bartra
7.0
Minutes played: 45
Touches: 53
Passes: 50
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/1
Interceptions: 1

Arron says: 7.0

In all honesty, it’s impossible to rate Bartra based on his defensive contributions, purely because  the Blaugrana were just so dominant in every facet of the game. So, I’m going to have to look at   the other aspects – as per usual, Bartra’s passing was exquisite and he even ventured forward to   good effect too, nearly grabbing a goal in a one-on-one with Elche keeper, Tyton. Vermaelen might   provide good cover, but please God let Bartra be ahead of Thomas in the depth chart.

Pedro
6.1
Minutes played: 23
Touches: 15
Passes: 7
Pass Accuracy: 100%
Shots/Shots on Target: 2/2
Tackles: 1

Arron says: 6.5

Better than Rafinha, not quite at Munir’s level and obviously, nowhere near Lionel Messi. That’s  Pedro’s night in a nutshell – but in the interest of fairness, I’ll delve into his performance a little   further. His link-up with Messi was great and he provided some more urgency than Rafinha, as   evidenced by his long-range shot, but I didn’t see anything to suggest he will challenge Neymar and   eventually Luis Suarez, for that final attacking berth.

Sergi Roberto
6.0
Minutes played: 12
Touches: 3
Passes: 23
Pass Accuracy: 96%

Arron says: N/A

Given how late Sergi Roberto entered the game, and given that the game was over upon hisentrance, I think it would be unfair to hand Sergi Roberto a full rating.

The Team 8.6
Passes: 816
Pass Accuracy: 92%
Shots/Shots on Target: 12/6
Tackles: 22
Aerial Battles Won: 33%
Fouls Won/Committed: 13/11

Arron says: 10.0
Picture perfect from the first minute right up until the last. We dominated possession, thanks inmost part to the return of pressing – oh what a difference that made in this match – and moved onfrom there. Without the ball, Elche couldn’t threaten the Barça defense and our general approach tothe game enabled us to almost carve through their backline at will during our best periods. If we canplay like this every week, then rest assured that the La Liga title will be back in Catalunya come May.
Luis Enrique
8.6

Arron says: 10.0

If you think that Luis Enrique did anything wrong in this match, you’re a liar. The choice of starting XIwas flawless, the substitutions were smart and of course, the general effects of his influence as headcoach were clear for all to see. The future is looking very bright indeed.

MOTM - Lionel Messi
87%

Bostjan says: Lucho

I'm going a little bit off script with my Mot of the Match choice as I award it to Luis Enrique. The pressure of managing his first official FC Barcelona game must've been huge, but the Asturian handled it with class and exerted calmness throughout the match. The community, on the other hand, overwhelmingly sided with the one and only, Lionel Messi. Rakitić and Munir picked up the "next" most nominations, finishing with 6% and 5% of the votes, respectively.