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

A detailed, player-by-player breakdown of Barcelona's narrow win against Malaga.

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Claudio Bravo
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 42
Passes: 27
Pass Accuracy: 93%
Shots Faced: 1
Saves Made: 1
Clearances: 0

Bostjan says: 6.5

The Chilean had a fairly comfortable game in net for Barcelona as he wasn’t really tested much, having only had to make a single save the entire 90 minutes. Most of the time Bravo exuded confidence, though there were a couple of plays in which he looked a bit shaky, like when he was caught off the line and was almost beaten by a shot from the midfield. Overall though, Bravo read the play very well, both when collecting high and low crosses and improved his passing play markedly compared to his last game against Athletic Bilbao.

Sergi Roberto
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 52
Passes: 47
Pass Accuracy: 94%
Key Passes: 0
Turnovers: 0
Tackles: 1
Shots/Shots on Target: 0/0
Clearances: 2
Fouls: 2
Interceptions: 0

Bostjan says: 7.0

Making his first official start for FC Barcelona at right-back, Roberto looked very comfortable. While he wasn’t quite as effective as he was in the first game of the La Liga season, Roberto made good plays both on offense and on defense, which included a couple dangerous crosses and a few important clearances and tackles. In attack he didn’t look quite as comfortable in the passing game as Dani Alves is, but with experience it as an area of the game that could easily improve for the young Catalan.

Javier Mascherano 7.5
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 83
Passes: 69
Pass Accuracy: 91%
Tackles: 4
Interceptions: 2
Clearances: 1
Key Passes: 2

Bostjan says: 8.0

The heart that El Jefecito displayed in this game is invaluable in a season as long as Barcelona will be going through this season because it is contagious. Throughout the night Mascherano was making plays and was often getting hit heavily along the way, suffering a lot of abuse. But we’ve gotten used to Mascherano displaying defensive excellence with plenty of disregard for his health, but the Argentine was also very involved in attack in this one, even getting within inches of scoring his first Barcelona goal, hitting the crossbar with an excellent header midway through the first half.

Thomas Vermaelen
Minutes played: 89
Touches: 75
Passes: 60
Pass Accuracy: 95%
Tackles: 1
Interceptions: 5
Clearances: 5
Aerial Duels Won: 4
Shots/Shots on Target: 3/3

Bostjan says: 8.5

Talk about the early surprise of the season. Building on an excellent showing in the season opener, Vermaelen was once again very solid in defense, making plays in the air and on the ground. But the Belgian’s biggest contribution to the game came in attack where he scored the only goal of the game, on a well taken left-footed first-time shot off a rebound from an Idriss Kameni poorly cleared cross. Vermaelen was subbed off in the dying minutes of the game, shortly after he experienced some cramping after a long sprint, but it was later revealed the Belgian was fine.

Jordi Alba
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 94
Passes: 80
Pass Accuracy: 85%
Shots/Shots on Target: 0/0
Tackles: 1
Interceptions: 0
Clearances: 3
Key Passes: 0
Turnovers: 1

Bostjan says: 7.0

By his standards, Alba had a fairly quiet game. While he was constantly looking to provide width to the Barcelona attack, he wasn’t always on the same page with neither Neymar nor with Iniesta. It wasn’t all bad though as the speedy full-back was also able to create some chances, like the one in the 77th minute when Suarez had a good look on goal. Defensively Alba was very solid, making several good plays, but none bigger than in the 93rd minute when he was able to disrupt Charles’ would-be equalizer attempt.

Sergio Busquets
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 92
Passes: 80
Pass Accuracy: 90%
Shots/Shots on Target: 2/1
Tackles: 3
Interceptions: 1
Clearances: 4
Turnovers: 1
Aerial Duels Won: 3
Key Passes: 1
Fouls Won: 3

Sam says: 7.5

A good performance from Barcelona’s pivote. His tackles and interceptions were quickly turned into Barça attacks as he routinely shifted the ball into the right areas. He was the second highest passer for Barça and finished the game with an impressive accuracy of 90%. His position also ensured Malaga didn’t have too many chances for breakaways and counterattacks, which in term relieved some of the pressure off the back four.

Ivan Rakitić
Minutes played: 62
Touches: 49
Passes: 38
Pass Accuracy: 95%
Shots/Shots on Target: 0/0
Turnovers: 1
Key Passes: 2
Successful Dribbles: 0
Tackles: 0

Sam says: 6.0

Another quiet game for Rakitić which highlights the out-of-sorts form he is in. He never really affected the play, both offensively and defensively, and struggled to make an impact on the game. His passing was very accurate at 95% but most of those were simple passes that didn’t probe the Malaga defence. He was withdrawn just after the hour mark.

Andres Iniesta
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 84
Passes: 72
Pass Accuracy: 85%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/0
Fouls Won: 4
Turnovers: 1
Successful Dribbles: 4
Key Passes: 4
Tackles: 2

Sam says: 8.5

Arguably the man of the match, Iniesta was superb throughout. In the first half in particular, he was the one trying to up Barça’s tempo whether that be through dribbling past opponents or picking out a great pass. He contributed in all areas of the pitch, creating chances at one end and preventing Malaga chances at the other. A great display from the captain.

Luis Suarez
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 29
Passes: 12
Pass Accuracy: 58%
Shots/Shots on Target: 4/2
Turnovers: 3
Successful Dribbles: 1
Key Passes: 1
Fouls Won: 3
Aerial Duels Won: 2

Sonia says: 7.5

Suarez started well last match - he got the ball in the net very early in the game, although it had come from a foul and the goal was disallowed. He didn’t let the keeper rest and chased every last ball. Despite his spending a lot of time offside, he was fairly sharp otherwise.

Lionel Messi
Minutes played: 90
Touches: 114
Passes: 86
Pass Accuracy: 80%
Shots/Shots on Target: 7/5
Fouls Won: 1
Successful Dribbles: 8
Key Passes: 2
Turnovers: 2
Tackles: 2

Sonia says: 8.0

Messi was great against Malaga. The link with Neymar was back, and it was great to see passes between the two. Messi also made some excellent attempts at goal, however, they were all unfortunately met by Kameni. Messi was very dominant and did awesome, despite the fact that Kameni was able to prevent his shots on goal from actually turning into goals. Now that MSN is complete, we can expect the GOAT to return to last season’s complete domination mode.

Neymar 7.4
Minutes played: 86
Touches: 90
Passes: 63
Pass Accuracy: 79%
Shots/Shots on Target: 2/1
Tackles: 1
Key Passes: 6
Successful Dribbles: 7
Turnovers: 3

Sonia says: 7.5

Neymar was finally back and able to play for us after recovering from the mumps. He did awesome considering that he has just returned from illness, and it was also great to see his connection with Messi back. Neymar was not the best by his standards, but that was understandable and to be expected because of his long break (from the mumps, and the Copa America before that).

Rafinha 6.4
Minutes played: 28
Touches: 25
Passes: 17
Pass Accuracy: 94%
Shots/Shots on Target: 1/1

Kevin says: 6.5

Brought on for Ivan Rakitic just after the hour mark as Barcelona pushed forward chasing the win. Drew a good save from Kameni after sending a curling left-footed effort heading for the bottom corner. Also came close to slotting Messi through on goal but La Pulga was deemed offside. All in all a pretty solid performance from a player we haven't seen in midfield too much of late.

Sandro Ramirez
Minutes played: 4
Touches: 5
Passes: 3
Pass Accuracy: 100%
Successful Dribbles: 1

Kevin says: 6.0

It's becoming necessary to try rating Sandro based off 5-10 minute cameos which is generally unfair on a player. However right now he looks to be the first choice striking substitute replacing Pedro, and a step ahead of Munir whom early last season was the toast of Camp Nou. Looked positive with his running and went on an impressive solo dribble in the 92nd minute which unfortunately fell short. Looking forward to him getting more minutes and showing us more of what he's capable of.

Jeremy Mathieu
Minutes played: 1
Touches: 1
Passes: 1
Pass Accuracy: 100%
Tackles: 0

Kevin says: N/A

91st minute replacement for Vermaelen. Not on the field long enough to warrant a rating.

The Team 7.5
Passes: 689
Pass Accuracy: 87%
Shots/Shots on Target: 22/13
Tackles: 16
Aerial Battles Won: 82%
Fouls Won/Committed: 21/4

Sonia says: 8.0

The team was very good against Malaga. Although the scoreline didn’t show it as well as it could have against a lesser goalkeeper, Barca was definitely dominant. There was definitely an improvement from the past few matches as well. In the defence, Vermaelen was a pleasant surprise. It seems that his signing wasn’t completely useless, as his performance was impressive. Although he may not be as world-class as Pique, for example, he did well, even scoring the winner. Sergi Roberto was likewise nice to see. He is doing well at his new position of RB covering for Alves - at times he was arguably even more useful. In the midfield, Rakitic wasn’t very good and was the flop of the match. However, it is likely that he just needs rest and will be back on par soon. And, of course, MSN was fantastic. They were not able to score, but not for a lack of trying. They did very well and it was good to have Neymar back, however, Kameni still got the better of them.

Luis Enrique

Kevin says: 7.5

Well, what can we say? Luis Enrique's charges managed to edge out an unbelievably dogged Malaga outfit at home which we all know wasn't possible last season. The manager's continued show of faith in Thomas Vermaelen, whether by design or necessity, looks to be bearing fruit as the centre half was again excellent defensively and vitally rifled home a left footed winner. We weren't expecting a game for the purists, nor did we get one, but Barça were tough and determined, looking to have regained defensive solidity. MSN are not quite firing on all cylinders just yet but we're two for two from games that everyone knew would be difficult to begin with. I'm not complaining.

MOTM - Thomas Vermaelen

Bostjan says: Vermaelen

Should we be getting used to seeing the Verminator's name in the Man of the Match section? Well, if he continued to play like the we sure have to. Scoring the only goal of the game and playing excellent defensively Vermaelen deserved to be named MOTM. Joining him on the podium are Messi and Iniesta, with 20% and 14%, respectively.

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