Copa del Rey: Espanyol 0-2 Barcelona- Player Ratings
The last-16 clash between Catalan rivals Espanyol and Barcelona was probably done and dusted even before the ball was kicked in the second leg, but Barcelona – who have lifted this trophy 27 times, ensured their progress into the quarter-finals was comfortably done, as they followed up their 4-1 victory in the first leg to sweep Espanyol aside by two goals at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat to round off a 6-1 aggregate victory for Luis Enrique’s side.
In a game bereft of chances, a pin-point Lionel Messi through ball in the 32nd minute found Munir, who rounded off the keeper to widen Barcelona’s aggregate lead. The 20-year old Egyptian then added another goal to his Barcelona tally, when he was offered the ball on a plate after good work by new signings Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan to slot home a second and send his side into the last eight of Spain’s premier knockout competition.
We take a look at how each player involved in the game fared and assign them a rating on a scale of 1 to 10:
Francesco Bardi – 6.5
Made a fantastic save early in the game to deny a deflected Lionel Messi shot following a corner. He followed it up with a similarly good stop to deny Barcelona’s No. 10 after he threaded through the Espanyol defence. Could do nothing to stop the opener as he was rounded off by Munir following a sumptuous through ball by Messi. An above-par performance overall.
Roberto Correa – 6
Started the game brightly, complementing Asensio on the right-wing to take the game to their Catalan rivals through some high-press. Was largely constrained to defend against the partnership between Mathieu and Arda Turan after that, and struggled to do that.
Michael Ciani – 6
Did a solid job of clearing away a few of promising Barcelona attacks, but was honestly quite helpless in stopping either of Barcelona’s goals.
Alvaro Gonzalez – 5.5
A below-average performance from Alvaro exacerbated by a booking thanks to a blatant foul on Lionel Messi. Was inept in trying to mark El-Haddadi throughout the game and was also suspect while trying to defend set-pieces.
Ruben Duarte – 5.5
Kept new signing Aleix Vidal in check during the first half, but was absolutely blown away by the pace of the 26-year old in the second half. Didn’t offer too much of a threat going forward either.
Joan Jordan – 5.5
Another player amongst probably a myriad of them to face the wrath of Lionel Messi’s magic on the pitch. The midfielder got nowhere close to him at any stage during the game and the difference in class was visible throughout.
Salva Sevilla – 6.5
Tried very hard to force the issue for Espanyol by making some searing runs down the middle of the pitch– but was ultimately luckless due to Mascherano’s defensive masterclass and Rakitic’s accurate tackles.
Abraham Gonzalez – 6
Despite a few good passes, the Espanyol captain was eventually ineffective in forcing a move that would unsettle the Barcelona defence and force his side back into the tie. He did, however, make two or three good interceptions to deny the likes of Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic in midfield.
Burgui – 6
Apart from a couple of occasions where he was on his bike on the left-wing, Burgui hardly created a meaningful goal-scoring chance for his side. Was well checked by Dani Alves and Aleix Vidal for pretty much the entire 55 minutes he was on the pitch.
Felipe Caicedo – 5.5
A poor game for the centre-forward. Failed to take advantage of any cross from Asensio and Burgui on the wings or through balls from Salva Sevilla in midfield. Was put through on goal twice, but was brilliantly denied by Ter Stegen on both occasions. A night to forget for the Ecuadorian.
Marco Asensio – 7
Easily the best player on the pitch for the opening 20 minutes, dominating the right wing and delivering quality balls into the box for Caicedo to work with. His impact gradually petered out as the game progressed as Mathieu became more alert to his run-ins.
Montanes Claverias – 6
The winger replaced Burgui in the 55th minute to inject some pace into a desperate Espanyol attack, but was outclassed by the assurance of Dani Alves at right-back and never got any real opportunity to trouble the 32-year old Brazilian.
Sylla Diallo – 5.5
Came on in the 68th minute in place of the hard-working Salva Sevilla, but failed to engineer any sort of creativity required to break open the Barcelona defence.
Gerard Moreno – N/A
Thrown on as a second striker to try and give Espanyol an opportunity to get a grip on the tie, but was had too little time to make an impact.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen – 7.5
An unbelievable night for the German keeper. After a nervous start – where he struggled a little with his distribution under pressure from the Espanyol attack – his confidence between the sticks grew as the game progressed and went to make 3 brilliant saves to frustrate Caicedo.
Dani Alves – 6.5
The Brazilian right-back did well to track down the pacey Burgui on the flanks during the first half and put on a similarly disciplined performance to keep Montanes in check. Offered a fair bit going forward too, linking up well with Aleix Vidal on the right bye-line.
Javier Mascherano – 7
Marshalled the back four professionally throughout the game, clearing away crosses flying into the box while also making crucial interceptions to counter Espanyol’s first-half attacking prowess.
Thomas Vermaelen – 6
Apart from a couple of occasions where he had to deal with the runs of Caicedo through the middle, the Belgian didn’t have too much to do thanks to fellow centre-half Mascherano’s heroics in defence. Was largely restricted to passing the ball around to start a Barcelona move. Was taken off early in the second half to be replaced by Marc Bartra
Jeremy Mathieu – 6.5
A productive partnership on the left flank with Arda Turan throughout the course of the 90 minutes – creating a number of openings through the Espanyol defence. A defensively sturdy performance as well, giving full-back Roberto Correa no room to work with and dealing with the pace of Asensio to good effect in the first half.
Ivan Rakitic – 7
Another intensity-filled performance from the Croatian midfielder – making vital tackles to stop Salva Sevilla on his tracks while also passing the ball around beautifully to set Barcelona on their way forward.
Sergi Roberto – 6.5
Not at his best, but he didn’t need to be – it was all about seeing the game out. By stringing together a set of passes from midfield, he ensured that there was no imminent danger to the Barcelona goal and that their Catalan rivals would not be able to win possession from a slack pass and try to force a counter-attack.
Arda Turan – 7
The Turkish international is slowly finding his feet in his new club – and Wednesday’s performance justified just that. He was dynamic on the left side of midfield – linking up quite well with Jeremy Mathieu and also making constant approaches into the Espanyol penalty area to find the perfect pass to Munir or Messi ahead of him.
Aleix Vidal – 7
Playing on the right-wing for this game, Aleix Vidal was a different player in the second half after an ordinary first half, where he was well marshalled by Ruben Duarte. His pace down the flanks was too much of a challenge for Duarte to handle. His combination with fellow new-signing Turan to lay the ball on a plate for Munir’s second half capped off a night of progress for the 26-year old in his early days at the treble holders.
Lionel Messi – 8.5
Another game, another magical performance by the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner. He cast his magic wand whenever the ball was as his feet, threading through a series of Espanyol defenders to find that extra half-yard of space to get a shot away. Could easily have grabbed a brace if not for Bardi’s good form in goal. His accurate through ball to open up the Espanyol defence and find Munir for his opener rounded off a mainstream night by his extraordinarily high standards.
Munir el-Haddadi – 8
In the absence of Luis Suarez through a ban, the 20-year old Munir was given a start by Luis Enrique and he provided good value for his 90 minutes, scoring a brace to streamline Barcelona’s progress into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. Helped by some poor defending by Alvaro, he won a lot of one-on-one duels, proving that he was capable of filling any void in the phenomenon that is MSN, should such situations come up in the future.
Marc Bartra – 6
The defender given a run-out by his manager in the 58th minute to see out the tie, and was largely unchallenged during his half-hour stint on the pitch.
Adriano – 6
A rare on-field stint for the 31-year old when he replaced Sergi Roberto in midfield in the 58th minute of the game. The tie was more-or-less settled by then, and he just had to pass the ball around to prevent Espanyol from getting a sniff at goal in the final stages of the game.