The friendly between FC Barcelona and Manchester United played in Gothenburg, Sweden, may have ended in a 0-0 draw, but both teams will have gotten plenty out of this very seriously fought clash. Barcelona, who eventually came out victors thanks to a 2-0 penalty shootout, will be thankful for a real test just 10 days before beginning their La Liga campaign.
Barca fans saw the first of Jordi Alba, but there was no return yet for David Villa, who could play later this week against Dinamo Bucharest.
Here’s how I rated Los Cules.
Victor Valdes: 6
Hardly troubled, he will be pleased with his stop of Rooney’s penalty just before the break—a n excellent confidence-booster before being subbed at half-time.
Dani Alves: 7
Alves was involved plenty while on the field and bossed his right flank. His passing looked sharp, as he continues an impressive preseason.
He was marginally offside when he was put through on goal by a magnificent pass from Fabregas.
Carles Puyol: 6
Puyol had very little to do in his 45 minutes but regather loose balls and recycle possession for his team.
He perhaps allowed a few too many crosses fly through the box.
Javier Mascherano: 6.5
Mascherano made a few excellent tackles, as he usually does, and he looked comfortable handling United’s attacking threat and composed on the ball.
He was withdrawn on the hour.
Most of United’s attack came down his flank through the impressive combination of Nani and Valencia. Adriano struggled a little to deal with the threat and did not involve himself in attack as much as Alves.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5
Busquets is not the most popular Barca player, and it showed today, as each of his touches were accompanied by boos from the crowd.
The usually error-free midfielder lost the ball a surprising number of times but also did his fair share of winning it back.
His passing was excellent.
Sergi Roberto: 6
Roberto looked mature and played a tidy 45 minutes. He was not overawed by his opposition but did not play many positive passes. Not a bad showing, but nothing spectacular either.
He was unable to make any of his trademark runs into the box.
Andres Iniesta: 7.5
Iniesta was voted man of the match for Barcelona, and most good play went through him in the first half.
He linked with Messi beautifully on a number of occasions and almost provided a delightful assist as he chipped the ball through for the Argentine early.
A real crowd favourite.
Alexis Sanchez: 5
Sanchez struggled to have any impact on the game and lost possession a number of times.
He did make a few decent crosses and improved slightly in the second half, but he did not show the form he’s been in the rest of preseason.
Lionel Messi: 7
Not a great performance from the world’s best player, but most of Barca’s play in the final third still went through him.
Messi does not look as sharp as he’d like to be yet and lacked his usual dynamism.
Cristian Tello: 4.5
Afforded plenty of space, Tello still struggled to capitalise on it. His performance showed why it was a wise decision not to give him a first-team number yet.
He still has plenty to learn, as evidenced by an unnecessary and clumsy tackle which cost Barca the penalty before the break.
Jose Manuel Pinto: 7
The shootout hero again for Barcelona after a wonderful save of Ashley Young’s attempt, Pinto made an excellent save from Kagawa early after coming on at half-time and maintained that standard.
His ball-playing still leaves plenty to be desired, however, and could have cost his team on a few occasions.
Gerard Pique: 6
Pique replaced his captain and also had very little to do. He strolled forward characteristically on the ball a number of times and took his penalty beautifully.
Nothing special from "El Maestro," who still looks as though he needs a few more minutes under his belt. Xavi did his thing and hardly missed a beat but provided little spark for his attackers.
He nailed his penalty.
After Fabregas' mixed first season in Barcelona, I expect improved performances from the Spanish international.
Already he looked more aware of his role in midfield. He was the most likely to make things happen in the second half, as he played a number of excellent passes.
Pedro Rodriguez: 6
Rodriguez performed better than his competitors for a starting spot but never really looked like scoring in a game of few real chances.
He worked hard and was eager to impress but did not get much service from midfield.
Ibrahim Afellay: 5.5
Afellay came on for Messi at half-time and played the "false nine" role but offered very little in attack.
Question marks remain over whether he is capable of success at Barca.
Marc Bartra: 5.5
Barta came on for Mascherano on the hour and was untroubled in defence and composed on the ball.
He deserves a chance this season.
Martin Montoya: 5.5
Montoya had a difficult act to follow after coming on for Alves but did nothing to disgrace himself. He had a minimal impact, positive or negative.
Jordi Alba: 6.5
A promising debut from the speedy left-back, it was really only a brief run-around, but he still managed to show just why the club shelled out €14 million for him.
He made his trademark overlapping runs to the by-line and whipped in a few tempting low crosses.
You can see why he’s rated so highly: He plays with the same swagger as his brother and showed one delightful piece of skill-dribbling in midfield.
He came on late for Busquets and had no impact.
Let me know what you thought of the game and follow me on Twitter Follow @KieranSobels
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