In yet another edition of El Clásico, FC Barcelona tied 2-2 at home against Real Madrid, thus keeping the 8 point lead over its main rivals. For that reason, as well as the fact that Barcelona barely had any defenders available for this match, the draw must be considered a good result for the club’s title aspirations. Victory was close in the end, but it wasn’t
meant to be.
Here are the ratings for today’s match:
Victor Valdés – 6
Didn’t have a chance in the second goal, but could have done far more to prevent the first, which was very savable. Didn’t have much work to do otherwise.
Jordi Alba – 7
Was pushed back by Arbeloa and Di Maria in the first half, being almost confined to defensive tasks, but was much more active in the second half with constant overlaps down the left flank and dangerous crosses into the box.
Javier Mascherano – 8
The best player in Barcelona’s defense, keeping it together for large parts of the match. Made a lot of important tackles and interceptions and showed tremendous calm and assurance.
Adriano Correia – 7
Was surprisingly selected to play as a center back and had a mostly tidy performance, without compromising. He was guilty of playing Ronaldo onside for the second goal, though, probably a result of his lack of experience as a center back.
Daniel Alves – 5
Only played for 27 minutes before picking up an injury, but those 27 minutes were very forgettable. He was too slow closing in on Ronaldo in the first goal, as well as when Ronaldo set up Benzema for what could have been the second. The team improved with Montoya on.
Sergio Busquets – 9
The best player on the pitch. Protected Barcelona’s makeshift defense to perfection, with countless key interceptions and simply refused to give away possession, showing tremendous calm and poise even when under great pressure. A sensational performance that probably saved the club from defeat tonight.
Xavi Hernandez – 7
Controlled proceedings in midfield as always and barely missed a pass, but Barcelona could have used perhaps some more cutting edge/risk in Xavi’s passing, especially during the second half.
Andrés Iniesta – 8
Returned to action in this match and it was almost as if he never left – exquisite ball control, dribbling and vision –, but he wasn’t quite as deadly sharp as in some other Clásicos, namely during the second half.
Cesc Fabregas – 7
Was active at the start of the match, but quickly faded into the same Cesc we have seen in recent times – a peripheral figure at best, who, despite a tidy performance, never really did set the world on fire with his football.
Pedro Rodriguez – 8
Showed stunning and relentless work ethic, but quality too; most of his crosses turned out to be inconsequential, but one of them led to Messi’s equalizer in the first half.
Lionel Messi – 9
Saved the team once again with two goals, even one of them from a truly sensational free kick, and a great overall performance with constant dangerous runs. He’s only one goal behind Di Stefano in El Clásico’s overall goal tally.
Martin Montoya – 8.5
Replaced the injured Alves brilliantly, doing a great job both in defense and attack. Mostly nullified the threat posed by Cristiano Ronaldo down the left flank and was very close to being the hero in the final minutes as his shot hit the crossbar.
Alexis Sanchez – 7.5
His pace and clever runs behind the defense caused some trouble to Real Madrid, but his final ball was mostly ineffective and he was caught offside far too often.
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 Credit: Jose Jordan – AFP