Barcelona started their Champions League campaign with a difficult yet valuable 3-2 home win over Unai Emery’s Spartak Moscow, in a match where Gerard Piqué picked up a serious injury that leaves the team very depleted at the back. Lionel Messi saved the day once again with a brace to secure the win for the club.
Here are the ratings for today’s match:
Victor Valdés – 6.5
Was not at fault for either of the goals, and had little work to do otherwise. A frustrating night for the Catalan keeper overall.
Adriano Correia – 6
Was threatening and dangerous on the offensive end, but shocking defensively; was partially at fault for the two Spartak goals, especially the second one where he let Romulo easily get past him.
Gerard Piqué – N/A
Only played for about 10 minutes before having to leave with an injury.
Javier Mascherano – 6.5
Had a lot of problems with Emineke’s pace and got beaten several times. He was still overall the best Barcelona defender today. Improved as the match went on and got involved in attack as well.
Daniel Alves – 5
Scored a compromising own goal, was often beaten by the Spartak attacker and his offensive contribution was very small too. A performance to forget from Alves.
Sergio Busquets – 8
One of the best players on the pitch; shielded the defense whenever needed, broke up play many times, recycled possession and even did some interesting creative passing.
Xavi Hernandez – 8
His passing was as impeccable as usual, often saving the team from losing possession by finding the best open passing lanes or making himself available in a free space. Kept a calm and collected head even when the team was down.
Cesc Fabregas – 5.5
Yet another very unconvincing performance. He wasn’t dangerous nor did he open up space for his teammates as Iniesta always does. This time, Cesc couldn’t even come close to fill in for Don Andrés.
Pedro Rodriguez – 6.5
Had a few moments of brilliance, but was mostly not involved in the match/the team’s attack. Was yet another player far from his best days in this match.
Christian Tello – 8.5
Man of the match. He showed yet again he is a bit one dimensional, but the two first goals came from his brilliant individual plays and he tore up Spartak’s defenders time and again.
Lionel Messi – 8
Didn’t play a great match for his standards at all, but two poaching efforts close to end ensured victory for the club and took his overall Champions League tally to 53, the fourth best ever tally.
Alex Song – 7
Came in for Piqué early to form a center back pairing with Mascherano. His defending let a lot to be desired at times, but at least he tried to do the best he could in a position that is not his.
Alexis Sanchez – 8
Came in for Daniel Alves and injected some much needed pace and creativity in the team’s attack, assisting Messi for the equalizer with a perfect cross.
David Villa – 7
Another cameo appearance for the returning Villa. He was very close to scoring on one occasion and looked good overall.
Image: LLUIS GENE – AFP