Barcelona began Saturday's match at San Mames in a dismal way to say the least. The Catalans looked out of sorts and Bilbao even outplayed them to enter the half with a 1-0 lead.
But with the entrance of Lionel Messi, everything changed. The Catalans looked sharper and surged to a 2-1 lead before conceding late to draw at two goals apiece. It was not Barcelona’s day, but a few players did show up in a big way.
In this article we will look at the player ratings for La Blaugrana. Be sure to check out the rating key below before continuing, and note that all statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com.
2—No production whatsoever
3—Very little production
4—Worse than average
8—Very high production
9—Nearly perfect performance
Victor Valdes: 5/10
The Catalan keeper only made one save on the day and claimed only a single cross. He did not have much to deal with, but did not make the saves he needed to. Though the shots were very difficult, one has to wonder if he could have done better.
Dani Alves: 7/10
Brazil’s right-back did not put in his best performance, but was still important. His five tackles came at very key moments and his two dribbles won nearly led to goals. His cross was a deciding factor in the second half.
Gerard Pique: 4/10
Pique did not show up for this one. He did make three strong tackles, but he needed to do more. Being the tallest defender on the team warrants winning more than 50 percent of his headers. But it was his positioning and decision making that cost Pique the most.
Eric Abidal: 7/10
The French defender did not do much, but that is exactly why his rating is a bit higher. He was not forced to make a single tackle due to his strong positioning. He also built up a lot of play from the back and looked like the most comfortable defender on the pitch.
Jordi Alba: 6.5/10
The first half was not Alba’s best showing. But he did pick things up the second Messi came on. Alba made three strong tackles and won every header he challenged for. His link up with Alexis was also strong and nearly led to a few goals.
Although Xavi played well, he did not contribute very much. He pulled the strings with his passing but was more than content to let Thiago do most of the work. Xavi did enjoy 88 percent passing efficiency but gave the ball away far too many times.
Alex Song: 8/10
The Cameroon international put in a masterful performance for his second game in a row. His seven tackles had the midfield locked down and his physicality forced Bilbao to play out on the wings.
The Spanish youngster was arguably the best player on the pitch for Barcelona. He completed 90 percent of his passes and gave an assist to Messi. Thiago also made two key tackles and controlled the offensive side of the midfield for Barcelona.
Alexis Sanchez: 7/10
The Chilean winger put in a decent performance at San Mames using his speed and ability to track back. He rattled the post early in the game and eventually scored in the second half. He was quiet for the majority of the match, but did step up at important moments.
Cesc Fabregas: 6/10
Playing as a forward, Fabregas was severely disappointing. He gave the ball away almost every time he touched the ball and was not a scoring threat whatsoever. But when he moved back to the midfield playing behind Messi, the Catalan performed much better.
Pedro played much better in defense than he did in attack. He made two strong tackles and linked up a few times with Xavi. However, Pedro really did not do much of value despite enjoying a passing efficiency of 84 percent.
The Brazilian came on at the start of the second half for Eric Abidal. He performed quite well beside Pique and won every header he challenged for. His speed was very important, but it is still clear that his positioning needs improvement.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
As soon as Messi stepped onto the pitch, everything changed. The Argentine took over, scoring one goal and giving an assist to Alexis. His presence made defending difficult and Barcelona finally took command of the match.
Andres Iniesta: 6/10
Iniesta entered the match for Alexis late in the second half. He really did not have time to accomplish much but boasted a passing efficiency of 92 percent. His link up with Jordi Alba was present, but was not given enough time to execute an attack.
How would you rate the players? Who is your man of the match and biggest flop? Have your say below in the comments section.
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Barcelona and La Liga.