FC Barcelona kept its perfect winning record in La Liga with a very hard fought 2-0 win over Granada, with substitute Xavi Hernandez saving the day and avoiding what looked like an almost inevitable drop of two points.
Here are the ratings for today’s match:
Victor Valdés – 7.5
Did well whenever called upon, namely making a crucial save in the final 10 minutes that might very well have been the difference between 3 and 0 points for Barcelona.
Adriano Correia – 7
Solid performance on both ends of the field, albeit unspectacular and devoid of any big highlights. Was replaced by Tello near the end as Barça looked to crank up the heat up front.
Javier Mascherano – 7
Had a mix up with Song early in the match that could have led to a Granada goal, but was solid apart from that, making his fair share of tackles and key interceptions.
Alex Song – 6.5
Never looked too comfortable in his new center back role, although he improved as the match went on. Came close to scoring the opener with a header saved by Toño.
Daniel Alves – 7.5
Was very active and dangerous down the right flank all match long, setting up scoring chances for his teammates. Fulfilled his defensive duties well enough too.
Sergio Busquets – 8.5
A quality performance as (almost) always, breaking up play countless times and showing flawless passing and distribution. Hardly put a foot wrong today.
Thiago Alcantara – 6
Far from a great performance. Was too slow in possession and not as accurate as desired with his passing at times, and ended up being replaced by Xavi in the second half. Not a horrible performance, but an inconsistent one.
Cesc Fabregas – 5.5
Also wasn’t his day. Missed a glorious chance to score in bizarre fashion and slowed down/gave away possession far too often and cheaply. He and Thiago simply could not come close to matching the Xavi/Iniesta dynamic duo.
David Villa – 5.5
A very lackluster performance in his first start in almost a year. He was caught offside a few times and never looked in sync with the rest of the team and the rhythm of the match. He’s still far from his best form.
Alexis Sanchez – 6.5
Also looked out of sync for most of the match, but came into his own in the final half hour, helping Barcelona mount their final assault by providing width and pace.
Lionel Messi – 7.5
Had to take care of all creative duties, what with Barça’s attacking midfielders having a frankly uninspired night, and he did so very well, opening up a lot of space for his teammates. Provoked the own goal in the dying minutes too. A somewhat disappointing performance by his standards, but still a match winning one.
Xavi Hernandez – 9
Man of the Match. Brought some needed calm and composure to Barça’s midfield, as well as flawless passing, and scored a magnificent goal to save the team from what was looking like an inevitable draw.
Pedro Rodriguez – 7.5
Injected pace and energy in Barcelona’s attack after coming in for Villa, and caused Granada’s defense trouble with his short dribbling and direct runs. He was crucial to Barcelona’s improved performance in the second half and came close to scoring in the dying minutes.
Christian Tello – 6.5
Came in for Adriano with 15 minutes to go and wasn’t very effective, although his wide positioning and pace drew defenders to him and opened up space down the middle.
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: Alberto Estévez – EFE