Rating the Barcelona Players Against Spartak Moscow
Lionel Messi was the main man in Moscow, as his brace helped Barcelona towards a comfortable 3-0 win against Spartak as the Catalan giants sealed their place in the last 16 with ease.
It was Dani Alves who opened the scoring with a well-taken volley before Messi scored twice to end Spartak’s Champions League run.
Following a shock defeat to Celtic last time out, Barcelona resumed business in Europe, and here, we will analyse the players.
Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes 7/10
The custodian was hardly troubled by the Moscow-based outfit, who only had two shots on target during the 90 minutes.
Valdes looked comfortable all night and had nothing much to do, as he enjoyed watching the action from a safe distance when Barcelona loaded the artillery up front.
Full Backs: Dani Alves 8/10 and Jordi Alba 7/10
Alves scored an own goal in matchday one against Spartak, but this time, he scored in the right one. The Brazilian opened the scoring with a well-taken volley, and his goal defined the match from then on.
It was all Barcelona following the Brazilian’s strike. Always took initiative going forwards, and he did well at the back.
Like his partner on the other flank, Alba stretched the game in the wider areas and delivered a constant supply of energy on the left side of the park. Looked solid in defence, although he could have shown more initiative when on the back foot.
Central Defenders: Javier Mascherano 7/10 and Gerard Pique 7/10
Pique was in command and in control at the back and organised the solid defensive work witnessed in Russia.
His tackles were timely and effective, and he was always on high alert to deal with danger as and when it threatened his side.
Mascherano has come under fire at times for failing to grasp the basic defensive duties in the middle of defence, but he was excellent against the opposition tonight.
He worked hard and showed great heart and lungs. His tackle on Ari was textbook-perfect too, as he looked comfortable out of position.
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets 6/10, Xavi Hernandez 7/10, Cesc Fabregas 6/10
Busquets appeared laboured in the first-half and struggled to find his rhythm early on. However, as the game wore on, he started to regain shape in the middle and handled his duties with maturity, as he made life hard for Spartak down the central channels.
We have come to expect so much from Xavi. And as usual, he delivered in Moscow. The Spaniard orchestrated the majority of the play with his passing and vision heaping big damage on Spartak. Relentless in his approach, refined in his execution.
Fabregas performed well overall, and he showed magic touches on occasion. Perhaps he lacked the killer passing of some of his teammates on the night, but he still did his job to satisfaction.
Wide Forwards: Pedro 7/10 and Andres Iniesta 7/10
Pedro was not at the races two weeks ago against Celtic. But, he made up for that here. His performance was top-class, and he supplied Messi with the pass for the striker’s second goal of the game.
He did more than just create the assist. He was always making the effort to get his name on the score sheet, but was unlucky not to.
Iniesta played majestically and with panache. His movement on and off the ball dazzled Spartak Moscow all night. He was a constant threat and gave the opposition a real headache in defence. A classy game from the midfield maestro.
Centre Forward: Lionel Messi 9/10
Messi was always dangerous, and his two strikes mean he has now scored a massive 80 goals in 2012 for Barcelona, as he kept up his sensational strike rate.
Every time he touched the ball, Spartak defenders packed in a panic and fled as they struggled to stop his prowess. Superb as usual.
Substitutes: Montoya 4/10, Alex Song 5/10, Gerard Deulofeu 4/10
Montoya: The defender came on late for Jordi Alba, but he never had much to do at the back apart from keep things tight.
By that point, Spartak looked like they wanted the referee to blow his whistle early.
Alex Song: The former Arsenal midfielder came on with less than 10 minutes to replace Xavi in the middle.
He was hardly called to action, as he was not really needed to provide any cover during his brief spell on the pitch.
Gerard Deulofeu: The young forward took over from Pedro late in the game, and he continues to reign in admirers of the pitch, as he did what was asked of him with grace and determination.