This was yet another historic night for FC Barcelona, and especially for Xavi Hernandez and Pep Guardiola who became the most successful player and manager in the club’s history, with 18 and 12 titles respectively. Porto made the game very, very tough for Barcelona, but in the end, as always, Barcelona prevailed. The class of Lionel Messi made all the difference again as the Argentine capitalized on a huge mistake from Freddy Guarin to give Barcelona the lead in a period where Porto were looking like the better team, and made a brilliant assist for the second goal.
The second goal was scored by Cesc Fabregas, who won his second trophy in his second game at Barcelona. He was again a fantastic impact sub, a role he will probably play very often this season.
On to the ratings after the jump!
Victor Valdés – 7.5
Great as usual. Didn’t have much work to do, but saved Barcelona on some occasions. His save to João Moutinho’s shot in the first few minutes of the game was absolutely crucial, as was his save to Guarin’s shot in the second half. Valdés was as reliable as ever.
Adriano Correia – 6.5
Had some trouble containing Hulk in the first half, as expected, but did a solid job overall on both ends of the pitch. Adriano didn’t disappoint on being given the start in such a crucial game and showed why Pep Guardiola trusts him.
Eric Abidal – 6.5
Good game overall for the Frenchman. Could have been bad for him if the referee had given Porto a penalty when he decided to dally around with the ball and almost lost it, having to foul Guarin in the box. Luckily, the referee didn’t see it, but it is expected that Abidal doesn’t show such lapses of concentration in future matches.
Javier Mascherano – 7.5
Once again, Mascherano was excellent at center back, he’s really adapting to his new role. He was impeccable today yet again with crucial tackles and interceptions. Carles Puyol can take his time to recover and get back to full fitness, Mascherano is a more than worthy replacement to the great Barcelona captain.
Daniel Alves – 6.5
Wasn’t as great as last week against Real Madrid, but did a good job in offense as well as defense. Always provided an outlet for the ball when the other defenders were in tight spots. He was only beaten by Rodriguez once and nothing came of it, so he did his job pretty well.
Seydou Keita – 6.5
His inclusion as a defensive midfielder instead of Sergio Busquets was surprising, but Guardiola surely had his reasons. Maybe Busquets wasn’t completely recovered from his injury yet. Keita is no Busquets, but he wasn’t horrible by any means. As always, he did his job quietly but efficiently. In the first half, he gave the ball away under pressure sometimes, but improved in the second half.
Xavi Hernandez – 7
Became the most successful player at Barcelona with 18 trophies in his career and played his role controlling the pace of the game as he usually does. He’s still not in his best form, but his passing and movement are still as flawless as ever.
Andrés Iniesta – 7
Wasn’t at his very best, but was assured in possession and made some good forward runs and amazing dribbles. His passes were constantly thwarted by Porto’s excellent offside trap. Overall, a good performance from Don Andrés.
David Villa – 6
Worked a lot, never stopped running, but this was just not his day. He wasn’t very sharp, and could not beat Porto’s offside trap on several occasions but he’ll surely return to his best when the new La Liga season kicks off.
Pedro Rodriguez – 6.5
Was a bit more inspired than Villa, but it was also not his best day. His work ethic was phenomenal as always. Missed an easy chance in the first half when his lob over Porto keeper Helton bounced on the top of the net. He went missing a great deal in the second half and rarely beat Fucile.
Lionel Messi – 9
What else can we say about Messi? In three games this season, he has four goals and three assists. And it’s not like he’s playing against minnows, Real Madrid and Porto are amongst the best teams in Europe, as are Napoli. He was fantastic again, scoring a goal and assisting the other (a brilliant assist) and constantly dribbling past Porto’s players. It might seem hard to believe, but Messi looks an even better player this season.
Sergio Busquets – 7
Came on for Adriano to play as a center back next to Javier Mascherano. Didn’t have much to do, but was very efficient whenever he was called upon. He should start in his usual midfield role next Monday against Villareal.
Alexis Sanchez – 7
Came on for David Villa and had a very decent showing, with some nice touches and dribbling. He’s not fully adapted to Barcelona’s style yet, but he’ll get there soon.
Cesc Fabregas – 8
Two games (as a sub) at Barcelona, two trophies. Cesc couldn’t have asked for a better return home so far. He was a great impact sub again; his passing was great, as was his goal. Sure, Messi’s pass was sublime but Cesc’s clever run and neat finish also deserve praise. He looks like a club legend in the making.
Editor’s Note: These ratings have been written by Manuel Traquete. Manuel is a lifelong FC Barcelona supporter and a freelance football writer who shares his thoughts @Manueltraquete
Image Credits: Reuters Pictures