Player Ratings for Barcelona in 3-1 Win over Malaga
Tito Vilanova watched on Sunday as his Barcelona side romped to a 3-1 victory over a talented Malaga.
An inspired Lionel Messi followed up his early strike by setting up Cesc Fabregas and Thiago for the Blaugrana's second and third goals, respectively, justifying his Ballon d'Or win earlier in the week.
The result sees Barca consolidate their position at the summit of the La Liga table, 11 points clear of the chasing Atletico Madrid.
Here are the player ratings for Barcelona in a performance that would have impressed even the footballing gods.
Victor Valdes: 7
There was not much for Victor Valdes to do on a night when most of the drama took place at the opposite end of the pitch.
The Spanish keeper did well early on to foil a clear Eliseu, but could do nothing to stop Diego Buonanotte's stunning free kick.
Dani Alves: 6
It was a relatively subdued night for Dani Alves, as Barcelona had far more success breaking down a stubborn Malaga side on the right flank, rather than his left side.
The full-back did well to keep a lid on Joaquin for much of the game, but was occasionally caught out of position.
Javier Mascherano: 7
It was a calm, assured performance from Javier Mascherano, filling in for Carlos Puyol in central defence.
Though the majority of football fans think of the Argentine as a holding midfielder, his time at Barca has proved he is more than capable of playing in the back four.
Gerard Pique: 7
Sunday's game was by no means Gerard Pique's best in a Barca shirt, but he did manage to limit the activities of a lively Roque Santa Cruz.
His partnership with Carlos Puyol remains his team's premier defensive combination.
Jordi Alba: 7
The young left-back was a real bargain signing this past summer, proving as much in a confident display down the wing, Sunday night.
He almost got into a physical confrontation with Sergio Sanchez, but thankfully cool heads prevailed and tempers calmed.
Sergio Busquets: 8
Playing in his usual holding midfield role, Sergio Busquets was technically flawless against Malaga, keeping burgeoning star Isco under wraps.
The Spaniard didn't have as much influence on his team's attacking play as he did against Espanyol last weekend, but was still influential in a deeper role.
Like Busquets, Xavi allowed the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Fabregas to shine going forward, but was still phenomenal dictating the flow of the clash.
According to WhoScored.com, the veteran completed a game-high 126 passes at a completion rate of 94 percent.
Cesc Fabregas: 8
A well-taken goal capped a fine performance from Cesc Fabregas at La Rosaleda Stadium
Involved in nearly every attack going forward, the Barca playmaker's understanding with Messi and Iniesta has reached an almost telepathic level.
Perhaps the quietest of Barca's front six, Pedro struggled to replicate his two-goal performance last weekend against Malaga.
It didn't help that so much of his team's attack was focused on the left flank, but when he was called upon to link up with teammates, the forward was assured in possession.
Lionel Messi: 9
It is no exaggeration to suggest that Lionel Messi is in the form of his life. Indeed, if Sunday's encounter is anything to go by, the Catalan side are playing as well as they ever did under Pep Guardiola.
Messi's first-half goal was simply him capitalising on Camacho's horrific back pass. But his pass for Fabregas' goal may just be the assist of the season so far.
Andres Iniesta: 9
Messi may have to fight off Andres Iniesta, though, for Man of the Match. The Spanish attacking midfielder was at his effervescent best against Malaga.
The Ballon d'Or nominee terrorised the opposing defence with his attacking runs, while being incredibly hard to dispossess when on the ball.
La Masia graduate Thiago scored a stunning goal, slotting a perfect finish past Willy Caballero having cut the opposition to shreds with a darting run.
Alexis Sanchez: 6
Unlike Thiago, Alexis Sanchez had little impact on the game having come on midway through the second half. He missed a golden opportunity to score in stoppage time.
What did you make of Barca's display? Who was your Man of the Match?
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