Barcelona postponed Real Madrid’s title celebrations for at least a few days and put an end to a bad week for the club with a resounding 7-0 win in Vallecas over Rayo Vallecano. The team looked like they had a point to prove and they did so in the most emphatic way possible, with one of the best performances of the season.
Here are the ratings for today’s match:
José Manuel Pinto – 8
Surprisingly selected ahead of Valdés today, Pinto had a very good performance after a shaky moment early in the game, which could have given Rayo an early goal. He made some excellent saves, not allowing Rayo to get on the scoreboard.
Adriano Correia – 7
Was solid defensively, although he didn’t have much to do, and not particularly threatening offensively when he charged up the field. Overall, it was a solid, even if far from memorable, performance.
Carles Puyol – 8
Did great at the back, with countless tackles and interceptions, leading the backline like always. He didn’t give Diego Costa (nor any of Rayo’s attackers) an inch. He also showed he’s such a great captain by stopping Alves and Thiago’s over-the-top goal celebration.
Javier Mascherano – 8
Played great alongside Puyol yet again, making quite a few key tackles and interceptions, as well as showing perfect positioning. He also had some interesting attempts to charge forward with the ball like Piqué and he did not do bad at all.
Martin Montoya – 7
Showed impeccable positioning and defensive skills for someone so young, but could have helped out in attack a lot more than he did, especially with most of Rayo’s best players out. He still needs to improve his balance between defense and attack.
Sergio Busquets – 8
Was shaky in the first few minutes, perhaps even lucky not to have conceded a penalty, but picked up quickly and played at his usual level, helping Barcelona retain possession and recover it whenever they lost it.
Thiago Alcantara – 8
Missed a few easy passes, especially in the first half, but apart from that had a great performance, capped off with a brilliant headed goal in the second half. He pulled the strings in Barca’s midfield, showing he has the potential to be a long term alternative to Xavi.
Seydou Keita – 9
Had possibly his best performance of the season, showing tremendous energy recovering a lot of balls and driving forward brilliantly. He also had some brilliant passes, including an assist for the second goal and scored the third goal with a cool finish. One of his best and most complete performances in the Barcelona jersey.
Alexis Sanchez – 8.5
Played an excellent match, running the Rayo defense ragged on multiple occasions and setting up chances for his teammates. The first goal originated from his fabulous through ball to Pedro and he created the second goal as well, remaining a threat until he was replaced by Tello late in the game.
Pedro Rodriguez – 9
Fantastic performance, reminiscent of his old days. His work ethic was phenomenal as always and so were his offensive contributions; he wreaked havoc in the Rayo defense all match long and took his two chances to score brilliantly (as he used to back in 2010), getting a brace. He also assisted both Messi’s goals, showing great selflessness in the first assist.
Lionel Messi – 9.5
Had a brilliant performance, after a somewhat disappointing week by his standards. He scored twice, but the highlight of his performance were his two majestic assists to Keita and Pedro. He destroyed Rayo’s defense all match long and now has 65 goals (and 28 assists) for the season, only two short of Gerd Muller’s record with 4 matches left to go.
Daniel Alves – 7.5
Came in for Adriano and did extremely well, with some trademark combination plays with Messi and a great cross for Thiago’s goal.
Ibrahim Afellay – 6
Finally returned to action and, as expected, didn’t have the necessary rhythm to make a very significant impact, although he did show some good touches.
Cristian Tello – 6
Had a few potentially dangerous actions in his few minutes on the pitch, but his dribbles were predictable and not particularly successful.
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: Miguel Ruiz (FCB)