Barcelona beat Rayo Vallecano 4-0 tonight, in a game that was played today due to the club’s participation in the Club World Cup in December. With Andrés Iniesta back, Barcelona weren’t at their best, with Rayo playing very well in the first half, but once Alexis Sanchez opened the score, the floodgates were open and the Catalans cruised to a comfortable win and are now just three points behind Real Madrid (who have a game in hand).
Here are the ratings for today’s match.
Victor Valdés – 7
Another uneventful match. Barcelona still haven’t conceded a single goal at home in La Liga and, truth be told, Valdés hasn’t been having much to do. Today, he made one very good save in the second half and not much else. His distribution was very good, though.
Éric Abidal – 7
Didn’t have much to do. He was solid throughout the match, calmly dealing with every situation presented. He had a very quiet game overall, mostly because Rayo weren’t much of a threat down his flank.
Gerard Piqué – 7
A very good performance, significantly better than against Getafe. He was solid defensively, he initiated the play for Villa’s goal and almost scored a goal of his own in the end. However, the yellow card he received was not a very smart move.
Javier Mascherano – 8.5
An excellent match. He made several key interceptions and many well-timed tackles to stop Rayo’s attacks. He has quickly grown into a world class center back and a vital member of the team.
Daniel Alves – 7
He was very active on the offensive end, but once again his crosses/passes could have been much better, although he did assist Villa for his goal. He didn’t have much to do defensively and was effectively a winger for most of the match.
Seydou Keita – 7
Solid performance. He did well to break up play and distribute the ball in the middle of park, even if he didn’t not add much in terms of creation. He’s becoming a more and more credible alternative to the defensive midfielder position with each passing game.
Xavi Hernandez – 7
Not his best match. He missed a few passes and seemed slower than usual, but still had a fairly decent game. While undoubtedly lucky, his assist to Alexis Sanchez’s second goal was fantastic. He left the pitch early in the second half with the outcome already decided.
Andrés Iniesta – 7
Returned to action after a period of absence due to injury and wasn’t as sharp as usual, for obvious reasons. He still created a lot of trouble to the Rayo defense with his excellent passing and dribbling, although he missed some moves that he’d normally pull quite easily. He left the pitch early for Thiago, but should be back to his best in the next match after gaining some match rhythm here.
Alexis Sanchez – 9
Brilliant performance, his best in the blaugrana jersey so far. He was undoubtedly the man of the match. He scored two goals, one of them brilliant and the other a bit fortuitous, and had a great performance overall, constantly tormenting Rayo’s defenders with his great pace and skills. He also tracked back really well to help defend on the left side of the pitch.
David Villa – 7.5
A very good performance, capped off with a goal. He showed great work ethic and link-up play up front and was a bit unlucky not to have scored another one in the end as his chip was almost perfect.
Lionel Messi – 8.5
Didn’t even get out of first gear, but still managed to torment Rayo’s defense all match long. His goal was absolutely sublime and some of his skills breathtaking. He now has 26 goals and 12 assists in 22 matches this season.
Cesc Fabregas – 7
Came in with about half an hour left and played a very solid match, with the highlight being a fantastic lobbed pass to Piqué, who almost scored.
Thiago Alcantara – 7
Showed some great skills during his time on the pitch and put in a solid shift overall. He linked up very well with Cesc Fabregas in midfield.
Adriano – 6
Came in a bit a too late to make any sort of impact and didn’t have many actions in the game.
Editor’s Note: These ratings have been written by Manuel Traquete. He is a lifelong FC Barcelona supporter and a freelance football writer who shares his thoughts @Manueltraquete
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