Round 9 of La Liga sees FC Barcelona narrowly defeat Valencia CF after Lionel Messi converted a penalty won by Luis Suárez in the second minute of extra time during the second half. Barcelona took an early lead after a controversial Messi strike in the 22nd minute, but Valencia responded with two goals early in the second half. Suárez tied the contest in the 62nd minute after a Neymar corner setting up a tense yet exciting finish.
Marc-André ter Stegen – 6.5
Marc made a nice stop in the 44th minute, and his distribution was clean throughout the match, although his midfield and defense let him down on both goals. Overall the German had a quiet and tidy match.
Lucas Digne – 6.0
Lucas made a few nice crosses in the first half and two great tackles in the 61st and 90th minutes respectively. He earned a yellow for an elbow challenging a header early in the second half, and his bad clearance was partially to blame for Valencia’s second goal. The Frenchman had a decent match, but he doesn’t bring all the intangibles that Jordi Alba brings to the side.
Samuel Umtiti – 7.5
What a match for the young defender. Numerous clearances, headers, step ups, and tackles were the order of the day for the Frenchman. Although he was lucky not to give up a penalty for a rash challenge in the 33rd minute. Even though Samuel played left center back he more than made up for the lack of Gerard Piqué in the lineup.
Javier Mascherano – 6.5
Javier had an oddly quiet match. He made strong tackles on either side of the beginnings of each half but wasn’t as influential as normal. One blot on his record for the match was that he was caught in no man’s land leaving Umtiti to defend two players on Valencia’s second goal.
Sergi Roberto – 7.5
His pass to Ivan Rakitić in the 22nd minute started the first goal scoring movement for Barcelona. He also won the corner that led to the second goal for the club. Sergi played strong throughout the match making great tackles and crosses. Having the young Spaniard in the lineup is becoming essential for the club.
Andrés Iniesta – NA
The world cup winner injured his knee in the 12th minute. Reports say he will be sidelined for up to two months or more, but the player hopes to return in time for the first El Clásico in early December.
Sergio Busquets – 6.0
Another odd match for a blaugrana player. Sergio earned a yellow for a pull back in the 25th minute and many would argue should have gotten a second for a similar play later in the first half. The match passed him by too easily as he didn’t seem comfortable on the pitch after the Iniesta injury.
André Gomes – 5.5
A step in the wrong direction for the young Portuguese star. He made a few decent passes and runs during the match, but he was at double fault for Valencia’s first goal. He gave the ball away that started the movement and lazily didn’t close down Munir El Haddadi allowing him to score.
Neymar – 7.0
It is impossible to say that this player is not exciting. Strong dribbles, winning yellows, tracking back on defense, and a missed bicycle kick are a few of highlights on the day for the Brazilian. He delivered a corner on a platter to the head of Rakitić whose shot rebounded allowing Luis to score.
Luis Suárez – 8.0
He won a yellow early in the first half. Valencia fans will argue he blocked Diego Alves view on Messi’s first goal. Late in the first half he had great interplay with Messi resulting in an Alves block. His rebounded goal tied the match at two a piece. The Uruguayan won the penalty that won the match. Overall a very strong match for Luis.
Lionel Messi – 8.5
He scored the first goal of the match with a low driving strike. He delivered balls to Suarez and Gomes late in the first half that both should have resulted in goals. Numerous other dribbles and passes in the match could have been converted as well. Messi calmly scored the third and winning goal for FC Barcelona from the penalty spot.
Ivan Rakitić – 8.0
The Croatian had the unenviable task of replacing one the greatest midfielders of all time and did a more than admirable job. His one touch pass to Messi led to first goal for the club. He hit the post and should have scored in the 50th minute. Ivan’s header rebound after a Neymar corner in the 62nd allowed the club to tie the match. His work rate was exceptional on both sides of the ball. He had a great substitute performance.
Denis Suárez – 6.0
Denis replaced Gomes in the 71st minute but had little effect on the match. His inclusion changed the club’s formation to a 4-2-4 with the Spaniard occupying the far right wing.
The tense encounter that spilled over to ferment in the dying moments was won by FC Barcelona with exceptional performances from Messi, Suarez, Rakitić, and Roberto. Who were your favorites?