FC Barcelona easily secured a place in the last 16 of the Champions League (as group winners no less) with an emphatic 0-3 win in the frozen cold of Russia against Unai Emery’s Spartak Moscow. The result was entirely built in the first half, with the inevitable Lionel Messi getting a brace after Alves scored the opener.
Here are the ratings for last night’s match:
Victor Valdés – 7
Was basically never tested as Spartak couldn’t find the target, this was one of the calmest Champions League away matches he will ever have.
Jordi Alba – 7.5
Provided an excellent attacking outlet down the left flank and was generally quick to track back as well, had a very good performance overall.
Gerard Piqué – 7.5
Also had a very solid performance, rising to the occasion for the very few times Spartak troubled him and showing great calm and composure on the ball.
Javier Mascherano – 8
Was quite active in this match with a lot of quality and important tackles, namely one to stop Ari from being through on goal. Barely put a foot wrong.
Daniel Alves – 8.5
Returned to the starting lineup with a bang, being a constant threat down the right flank and scoring a superb goal to open the scoring. He did fairly well defensively too, although Spartak rarely tested him.
Sergio Busquets – 7.5
Was a bit off his game in the first half, missing a few passes and leaving gaps he normally wouldn’t, but resumed normal service in the second half, breaking up play time and again and distributing the ball with his trademark quickness and accuracy.
Xavi Hernandez – 8.5
Pulled the strings in Barça’s midfield as per usual. His brilliant passing and vision were instrumental in Barcelona’s dominance and ability to disrupt Spartak’s defense.
Andrés Iniesta – 9
Brilliant performance. Kept appearing in different areas of the pitch to keep the Spartak defense guessing and was as sharp as ever with his passing and vision. Also had some of the highlights of the match with some truly wonderful touches and dribbling.
Cesc Fabregas – 7
The least active of Barcelona’s attacking players, but he was still tidy enough in possession, although he lacked some cutting edge. Combined well with the likes of Xavi and Iniesta too.
Pedro Rodriguez – 7.5
Was very active, making plenty of runs and getting into scoring positions, and he also assisted Messi’s second goal with an inch perfect through ball. The only blight in his performance was his unusual wastefulness in front of goal.
Lionel Messi – 9
Yet another great performance and he’s closing in on Muller’s goal record. He was involved in pretty much everything Barcelona did going forward and scored a brace to boot en route to yet another Ballon d’Or in January.
All three, Montoya, Deulofeu and Song, came into the match in the final 10 minutes with things set and done and had no influence on the proceedings.
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: PEP MORATA – MD