Real Madrid 2-1 FC Barcelona: Rating Barca's Performers
After triumphing in the first leg of the Spanish Super Copa last week, Barcelona have crashed to a 2-1 defeat to their bitter rivals at the Bernabeu.
Two goals in the first twenty minutes from Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo were enough to turn the one goal deficit in Real Madrid's favour, as Los Blancos took their ninth Super Copa trophy 4-4 on aggregate (2-1 on away goals).
The Catalans were comprehensively destroyed in the first half by a hungry Madrid outfit, who pushed high up the pitch and played at a high tempo. Things only got worse for the Blaugrana when Adriano was sent off before the half-hour mark.
Lionel Messi's spectacular free kick before half time gave the ten man Barca some hope, but while chances were exchanged, the Madrid outfit held out for victory.
Firstly, I have to say I have not seen Barcelona dominated by a team like that for five or six years. So prepare for some scathing criticism.
Here's how I rated Barca's performers on the night:
Victor Valdes: 7
It is unfortunate his late blunder in the first leg probably cost his team the tie, because on this night he was inspirational. He should have done more to stop Ronaldo's low drive but made countless saves as his goal was peppered with no fewer than 18 shots.
Who was Barca's Best Player in their 2-1 loss?
He blatantly fouled Ronaldo after just 29 minutes, reducing his side to 10 men and their chances to little more than a fool's hope. Adriano also struggled to fill the void of Alves while on the field.
Gerard Pique: 3.5
He failed to deal with the ball and Ronaldo's subsequent touch, which led to the second goal. His partnership with Mascherano looked shaky all night, before he decided to push higher up the pitch late on in search of a goal.
Pique is just not the same centre-back as he was a couple of seasons ago. Do we blame Shakira?
Javier Mascherano: 3.5
His effort to deal with the long ball for Higuain's goal was nothing short of pathetic. He continued to show poor positional awareness all night, and his presence in aerial challenges was laughable.
Higuain and Ronaldo's intelligent runs in behind troubled him all night and he struggled with their presence in between the lines.
He made some excellent tackles, interceptions and passes after the break, but Barca are not in need of a spectacular defender. They need a safe one.
Hey Tito, you should have bought a new centre-back.
Jordi Alba: 6
Alba started very brightly, and his exchanges with Iniesta on the left were Barca's only positive to take away from a dismal first half. Missed an incredible opportunity to level the score late on, and his lung-busting runs were a permanent feature.
However, Barca's centre-backs looked exposed all night, and he could have done more to protect them.
Sergio Busquets: 3.5
Sergio... where on earth were you? I'm struggling to find words to express his performance because for most of the night, he was quite simply invisible. After performing outstandingly in the first leg, he utterly failed to shield his back four, and when he did get the ball, he often lost it.
He should have been subbed earlier.
Xavi Hernandez: 6
Another player whose second leg performance paled in comparison to his in the first leg. Usually the conductor of Clasicos, the veteran struggled to control the first half, anonymous alongside his partner Busquets.
He improved considerably after the break and it showed as his side came back into the game.
Andres Iniesta: 6
Interestingly, he was one of the only players who impressed more in the first half than in the second. His quick feet and movement created space as Madrid closed down the Blaugrana midfield. He had little help, however, and struggled to provide the penetration he showed in his man-of-the-match performance at home.
Alexis Sanchez: 3
He probably should have just stayed in Barcelona. Another dismal performance from Alexis, as his only real contributions to the game were his customary flops to the ground.
Is he aware of how ridiculous he looks? He is not Barca quality.
Lionel Messi: 6.5
First things first, wow: What a free kick! The Argentine hit it from well out with conviction and it swerved beautifully round the wall before crashing into the back of Casillas' net. His goal on half time gave his team some hope, after he had struggled to live up to his usual high standards.
He has not quite looked the imperial Messi of last season this campaign, as he missed passes and lost the ball a number of times in the first half. He often found himself dropping very deep just to get a touch of the ball.
Like many of his teammates, however, he improved considerably after the break and created many of his team's best chances. His ball through to Alba was just superb.
Pedro Rodriguez: 6
Pedro struggled to involve himself before half time but worked tirelessly throughout the match for his side. He looked the most likely to level the score for his team before he was substituted late on.
He found himself on the end of a wonderful ball from Mascherano on the hour, which he controlled superbly but could not quite get a powerful shot away. Minutes later, his direct dribbling took him through on goal, but again he struggled to finish from a tight angle.
Pedro looks a rejuvenated force but will be disappointed he did not win it for his team.
Martin Montoya 32': 6
The young right back performed admirably after coming on and looked a lot more solid than some of his teammates. He also provided a useful outlet on the right, getting forward nicely and looking comfortable on the ball.
He almost made himself the hero after making an excellent run into the box, only for Casillas to save yet another shot on target.
Montoya should have started.
Alex Song 75': N/A
Song came on for Busquets and showed why Barca shelled out 19 million euros for him with a wonderful pass that almost set Messi up for a late winner.
Who was Barca's biggest flop on the night?
Otherwise, his performance was unconvincing. He looked lost positionally and was overrun in midfield.
Cristian Tello 82'
'The Flash' had little impact on the game unfortunately. He squandered a few half chances late on.
So, what are your thoughts on Barca's performance? Who was Barca's biggest flop on the night?
Leave a comment below and follow me on twitter. Follow @palabrasBarca
Please also check out my new piece on Barca's latest signing Alexandre Song:
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