Player Ratings: Almeria 0-2 Barcelona

Almeria put up a fierce resistance to keep Barcelona at bay for long periods but the Blaugrana’s magic eventually shone through. Goal.com rates the performers on the pitch.

ALMERIA  

Diego Alves – 8: Single-handedly kept his side in the game with four absolutely divine saves in the first half alone in what looked like certain goals for Barca. Very unlucky to concede the two goals, the first of which was a rebound and the second a wicked deflection.

Bruno – 6.5: Kept pinging in hopeful crosses from the right but none of them found his target. At the back, he had a very busy night trying to keep Iniesta quiet. Had a lot of help from his team-mates.

Acasiete – 6.5: Made a number of important tackles and interceptions. Regularly drifted to the flanks to help stop Messi, Alves and Iniesta, although it was his heavy deflection that left his goalkeeper flat-footed in the second goal.

Pellerano – 6.5: Barely left Bojan out of his sight especially in the first half. Not afraid to go shoulder to shoulder with Messi either inside the box.

Mane – 7: Very adventurous in attack and not afraid to attack Dani Alves or leave Messi unchecked at the back. Showed some great touches of the ball and full of invention, but he never had the proper support.

Juan Ortiz– 5: Didn’t test Sylvinho as much as he would have liked. Back-tracked a lot to help out defensively.

Juanito – 4: Allowed Barcelona’s midfielders far too much time on the ball. Didn’t close down anyone and almost anonymous on or off the ball.

Iriney – 5.5: Played almost as a fifth centre-back, constantly tracking back into his own half to clean up.  

Crusat – 6.5: Paired up well with Mane and constantly created danger down the left flank and through the middle. Had a glorious one-on-one chance on the counter midway through the first period.

Kalu Uche – 7: The best outfield player on the pitch for the home side. Deployed almost as a playmaker, creating openings for his team-mates with delicate through balls and spreading the attack from flank to flank.

Negredo – 4: Kept waiting and waiting inside the box for that elusive pin-point cross to come his way but it never arrived. Abandoned his role upfront and went to the flanks in search of the ball late in the game.

Substitutes:

Jose Ortiz – 5: Injected fresh legs into the game just as Almeria were tiring but did have much impact.

Corona – 5: Didn’t really make any significant contributions.

Piatti 6: Immediately breathed life into the game. Looked very dangerous out on the right wing in the brief 10 or so minutes he was on.

BARCELONA

Victor Valdes – 7: Didn’t have much to do. But he made no mistakes and dealt with all the high balls and crosses.

Dani Alves – 7.5: Looked as though he had run out of creativity, as he pumped in a number of wasteful crosses from his flank. But when space opened up on the ground, he didn’t hesitate to show off as he initiated and then set-up the second goal.

Pique – 7: Rarely troubled at the back and shepherd Negredo closely. Were one of those who were left in disbelief after seeing a certain goal kept out by Diego Alves in the first half.

Marquez – 6: Like Pique, he was never really but in any discomfort at the back. Dealt with everything and did not put a foot wrong.

Sylvinho – 6.5: Showed no signs of his aging legs. Charged forward occasionally to help his attackers and very alert at the back to deal with Almeria’s threat from the wing.

Xavi – 7: Rather quiet in the middle of the pitch. Pulled the strings deep in his own half but never really attacked much.

Toure Yaya – 7: Never left his position unattended. Showed his speed to keep pace with Crusat to pressure the winger when he had that one-on-one breakthrough in the first half.

Keita – 7: Very dangerous lingering just outside the opposition box. Always there to provide the extra man in attack to help break down the Almeria defence.

Messi – 8: As usual, saw plenty of the ball and did not stop running at defenders. Constantly took on two or three players to draw them out of position and open up space for his team-mates. Only had two shots at goal, though, one of which at least led to the opener.  

Bojan 7.5: Completely marked out of the game. Had to drift out of position to get the ball. Had only two clear-cut chances infront of goal and he took them with great composure.

Iniesta – 8.5: Extremely involved in every Barca attack with his sumptuous through balls and jinking runs. Also had a hand in both goals with the most simplest of touches. Left the game to a standing ovation from the home and visiting fans.

Substitutes:

Eto’o – 5: Came in after Barca had gone two up and only had one attempt at goal.

Gudjohnsen – 5: Did not see much of him and barely had a decent touch of the ball.

Hleb – 6: Had a few runs at the Almeria defence in the five minutes he was on the pitch.

KS Leong, Goal.com