La Liga 2016-17: Barcelona 4-2 Valencia, Player Ratings
The Catalans closed the gap on Real Madrid to just two points at the top of La Liga, with a 4-2 win over Valencia.
Barcelona huffed and puffed, but just about kept up with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, as the Catalans came up with a crucial 4-2 win over Valencia at the Nou Camp. Eliaquim Mangala was sent off in the first half, to make the job a little easier for La Blaugrana.
Lionel Messi's brace and goals from Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes were enough for Luis Enrique's side to overcome Los Che. It was a must-win game for Barca to keep their title hopes alive, given that Real Madrid had beaten Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on Saturday to open up a five-point lead at the top.
Here is how each player fared.
Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen - 6/10
There was nothing he could have done to stop either of Valencia's goals. He made a smart save to deny Soler, but apart from that, he was untested. His distribution could have been better, though.
Javier Mascherano – 6/10
Mascherano has taken to his new role on the right of Barca’s back three like a fish to water. It allows him to get forward and join the attacks a little more. That was evident as he played a big part in setting up Messi for the Catalans’ third goal on the night.
Gerard Pique – 5/10
Pique didn’t have a great game. Munir put him under constant pressure and the big defender was consistently second best. It is safe to say that he has had better days on the Nou Camp pitch.
Samuel Umtiti – 7/10
Barca have a 100% win record in the league when Umtiti has played. In this game, he once again showed why. He was strong and showed a level of maturity beyond his age. There were several occasions when he stepped in to nick the ball away from Valencia attackers and got it spot on. It was important he got those challenges right, because there was always space to exploit behind him, for the likes of Munir.
Sergio Busquets – 5/10
Like Pique, Busquets has seen better nights on the Nou Camp pitch. He wasn’t able to exert any influence on the game and was getting dragged all over the place by the movement of Soler and Parejo. But he grew into the game after Mangala was sent off and ensured that the ten men of Valencia did a lot more chasing of the ball.
Ivan Rakitic – 5/10
After the recent upswing in his form, this was another disappointing game for Rakitic. He was the man marking Mangala in the corner, but he lost the Frenchman and he made no mistake to score. Even in the build-up to Munir’s goal, he was weak as Gaya beat him easily.
Andres Iniesta – 7/10
Early in the game, Valencia put him under a lot of pressure, not allowing him any time to dwell on the ball and pick out passes with precision. But even with that pressure, Iniesta managed to continually pick out runs from Neymar and Suarez in behind the Valencia defence.
Rafinha - 5/10
Rafinha was poor. He didn't look up to pace on the right wing for Barca - either physically or mentally. It always seemed like he didn't know what Messi or Suarez was going to do next, and picked wrong options on several occasions.
Lionel Messi - 9/10
It was just another day at work for the little Argentine magician. What more can you say about this man? Once again, he wasn’t at his imperious best, but, like he has shown on numerous occasions, he had a major influence on the game even on his off days. He dispatched a penalty and finished expertly for another goal, as he continues to single-handedly carry Barca in the league.
Luis Suarez - 8/10
This was one of Suarez’s best games in recent memory. He was strong, was a presence up front and as Suarez always is, was a pest to the opposition defenders. In the 500th league game of his career, the Uruguayan celebrated with a goal that was expertly taken. He also won the penalty that got Mangala sent off and enabled Messi to level the scores.
Neymar – 8/10
Statistically, it would seem like there was no real contribution from Neymar. But he made life difficult for Martin Montoya on his return to the Nou Camp. He hit the post and had some shots expertly saved by Diego Alves. His recent upswing in form just keeps going.
Sergi Roberto – 5/10
He came on to replace Rakitic in the 65th minute and helped Barca keep the ball and kill off Valencia’s challenge.
Andre Gomes – 6/10
In 16 minutes of play against his former club, Gomes notched up a goal for himself.
Diego Alves – 6/10
He has got the best penalty-saving record in La Liga, but could do nothing about Messi’s spot-kick. It was a similar situation with Suarez’s goal too. But he could be considered culpable for Barca’s third goal as he let Messi’s shot beat him at his near post.
Martin Montoya – 4/10
He was given a torrid night by Neymar. At his old stomping ground, Montoya was never certain about what was coming next from the Brazilian and he remained twitchy all game. He had some good moments going forward early in the game, though.
Ezequiel Garay – 4/10
He should have taken the initiative and been the leader of the Valencia defence. Instead, he was sloppy. Garay was at fault for Suarez’s goal as he didn’t track a simple run made by the Uruguayan.
Eliaquim Mangala – 4/10
His night started off brilliantly as he put Los Che ahead with a well-taken goal. But after that, things turned sour for the Frenchman. Some might say that he didn’t need to tug Suarez back like he did. He can have no complaints about the referee sending him off for that foul. It made things extremely difficult for Barca on the night.
Jose Gaya – 6/10
He was Valencia’s standout defender on the night. In the early stages, he was a rock against Messi and Suarez. But after Mangala’s sending off, as the cover in front of him reduced, his task became more difficult. He had several good moments going forward as well.
Dani Parejo – 5/10
When his side were down to ten men, the captain should have taken responsibility and tried to keep possession, nut he didn’t. To add to that, he was shoddy in his defensive work. When you leave your backline exposed to Messi and co., there can only be one result.
Enzo Perez – 6/10
He worked hard, but that was about it. He could not cope with the movement of the Barca attackers and his passing was shoddy, to say the least.
Carlos Soler – 7/10
Along with Gaya, he was the bright spot for Valencia on the night. In the first half, he got forward constantly and produced several fabulous touches. But in the second half, his influence waned as he couldn’t keep up with wave after wave of Barca attacks.
Joao Cancelo – 6/10
On the right side of Valencia’s attack, he started the game brightly and capitalised on uncertainty in the Barca ranks. But as the game wore on, Umtiti unleashed his presence on the Portuguese.
Fabian Orellana – 5/10
He barely has an impact on the game in the first half. He was taken off after Mangala’s sending off to be replaced by Abdennour.
Munir El Haddadi – 6/10
Valencia used Munir’s pace on the counter to brilliant effect. Against his parent club, he gave a glimpse of how good he can be as he gave Gerard Pique, in particular, a torrid night. He got himself a goal too.
Aymen Abdennour – 4/10
He came on to fill the void left by Mangala’s sending off, but was ineffective. Abdennour couldn’t deal with the movement and the quick passing from Barca’s attackers.
Zakaria Bakkali – 4/10
The attacker barely got the ball, as Barca closed out the game very well.
Simone Zaza – 4/10
Zaza’s introduction didn’t have a positive affect on Valencia’s game as Barca moved it around slowly and judiciously to give Valencia no chance to come back.