FC Barcelona mave a giant step towards the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 2-0 win in Lisbon over local giants Benfica. But while Barça might have won the match and played great, the night was inevitably ruined by Puyol’s horrific injury, which will certainly sideline him from this weekend’s Clásico.
Here are the ratings for today’s match:
Victor Valdés – 7
Made a few quality saves but was mostly untroubled and a mere spectator of the match.
Jordi Alba – 7.5
Impeccable defensively, and also an excellent attacking outlet down the left flank, with excellent runs and crosses.
Carles Puyol – 7
Had a very solid performance in his first match back from injury until an even more horrific injury kicked in in the last 20 minutes of the match. He will probably not be available for El Clásico.
Javier Mascherano – 8
Had an extremely good performance, hardly making in errors, both defensively and as far as distribution was concerned. Hardly put a front wrong today.
Daniel Alves – 7
Was more conservative than usual today in his attacking forays, but did a very good job defensively preventing Benfica’s speedy wingers from making any big damage.
Sergio Busquets – 7.5
Had a very solid performance as usual, breaking up play seamlessly and showing impeccable distribution. He was everywhere from defense to helping out in the attacking third. Received a red card due to a poor decision by the referee for an offense which only deserved a yellow.
Xavi Hernandez – 8
Pulled the strings in the middle of the park as usual and was behind the vast majority of the team’s attacking moves. Would have capped it off with an assist had Alexis not missed right in front of goal.
Cesc Fabregas – 7.5
Was a bit nervous at the start, seeing a needless yellow card and sometimes tempting the referee to give him a red, but improved as the match went on and he ended up scoring the goal that confirmed Barca’s win with an excellent finish.
Alexis Sanchez – 8
Had a good start to the match scoring the opening goal from a pinpoint Messi assist, and also showed tremendous work ethic. His pace and trickery make it him tough to deal with for any defense and Benfica was no different.
Lionel Messi – 8.5
Wasn’t at his majestic best and wasn’t very involved in the match, but still managed to assist both Barca goals with brilliant pinpoint through balls, the second of which after dribbling past the entire Benfica midfield.
Pedro Rodriguez – 7
Worked really hard to pressure the Benfica defense. The ball wasn’t channeled through the right hand side much in the first half so he was not able to participate in the attack. He made a few poor decisions when he should have shot the ball goalward instead of trying to make the pass but otherwise had a good game till he was subbed out.
Andrés Iniesta – 7.5
Came in for Fabregas with 20 minutes left and proved that, as if any evidence was necessary, injury hasn’t stolen him his incredible ability at all. His knack to dribble in very small spaces is only rivaled but his excellent vision and passing.
Alex Song – N/A
Came in for the injured Puyol, too late to make any real impact.
David Villa – N/A
Came in for Pedro Rodriguez, also too late to make an impact.
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: Mundo Deportivo