What started as a seemingly routine game ended up turning into one of the most exciting and nailbiting matches of the season, with FC Barcelona grinding out a 5-4 win at the Riazor, despite all the absences at the back and Mascherano’s sending off early in the second half. As per usual, Lionel Messi was the hero with a sublime hat trick to secure the win, in a game where Barcelona’s defense left a lot to be desired.
Here are the ratings for today’s match:
Victor Valdés – 6
Had little chance to do anything with three of the goals, but could have done much better to prevent the second goal and never transmitted great security to his teammates at the back. An average performance overall at best, as further evidenced by the four goals he conceded.
Jordi Alba – 6.5
Had his moment of glory in the first few minutes opening the score after a great run, but overall he was beaten too often by his man and didn’t provide a significant enough threat on the attacking end of the pitch. He also scored a rather baffling own goal to give Depor one can last chance to complete their comeback in the final minutes.
Javier Mascherano – 5.5
His sending off was far too harsh, but his performance before that was far from his best as well as he never looked comfortable on the pitch, leaving too many gaps and committing unnecessary challenges. He also gave away the penalty that led to their first goal.
Alexander Song – 4
Once again looked like a fish out of the water in Barcelona’s backline, with woeful positioning overall and complete inability to track dangerous runs from Deportivo’s forwards. So far, he’s been a lost bet for Tito, he hasn’t been able to help the defense much, if at all.
Martin Montoya – 7
A very decent performance for the young right back. He wasn’t much of a threat offensively, but was more than solid enough at the back, especially considering the circumstances of the match. He wasn’t brilliant at any point, but did what he needed to do.
Sergio Busquets – 8
Showed once again how much a truly gifted player can do with just one touch of the ball; his ability to break down opponents’ attacks as well as distribute the ball with unmatched quickness and accuracy with just one touch made him stand out once again and be a key player today.
Cesc Fabregas – 9
Arguably the Man of the Match today (after Messi). Showed a perfect connection with Messi and his other teammates on the pitch and provided three assists (two of them to Messi), all of them excellent and product of his immense vision and creativity.
Andrés Iniesta – 7
A rare subdued performance where he was very far from his best. Still had a role to play in the two first goals and showed his amazing ball control, but he was mostly conservative with his passing and dribbling today, far from his most dangerous standards.
Cristian Tello – 8
Scored a magnificent goal early in the match and was a constant nuisance for Depor’s defense with his blistering pace and dribbling skills. He was replaced by Pedro late in the second half.
David Villa – 6.5
Did a good job stretching Depor’s defense thus creating space for his teammates, but still lacks the cutting edge that used to define him. Needs more work before being ready to play 90 minutes at his best level again.
Lionel Messi – 9.5
Another brilliant and inspirational performance. He assisted Tello for his goal and scored a spectacular hat trick of his own. The last goal was especially outstanding, and Messi wreaked havoc with his dribbling and creativity all match long.
A performance worthy of this generation’s best player.
Adriano – 7
Replaced Villa early in the second half to shore up the defense after Mascherano’s sending off and did a good job defending, barely putting a foot wrong whenever called upon.
Xavi Hernandez – 7.5
Came into the match for Fabregas to help the team retain possession better and see out the match while with 10 men, and did exactly that, making the team’s ball circulation more fluid and tougher to break.
Pedro Rodriguez – 6
Came into the match for Tello with little time left and didn’t play much of a role, although he did help the team retain possession in the final minutes and stop Depor from mounting a final assault.
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.
Image: Eduard Omedes - MD