Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Rating Both Sets of Players
Real Madrid advanced to the final of the Copa del Rey, knocking out arch rivals Barcelona with a humiliating 3-1 win at Camp Nou on Tuesday night.
It was the start of their difficult week—they face Barca in the league on Saturday before taking on Manchester United in the Champions League—that Jose Mourinho and his side would have dreamed about.
For Barca, it will bring further indictment to the same set of players—aside from Pinto replacing Victor Valdes—that lost 2-0 against AC Milan last week.
Cristiano Ronaldo added to his first half penalty with a second goal in the second half. Raphael Varane then scored the third from a corner before Jordi Alba's late consolation.
Let's break down each player's performance...
It would be cruel to blame Pinto for the first goal, which was a penalty, or the second, which was a ruthless Real Madrid counter attack.
For Los Blancos' third goal, he could have done better. Barca's second choice goalkeeper hesitated about whether to come and claim a corner, and Raphael Varane scored with a header.
He did make some saves though—one from a Cristiano Ronaldo shot, another from a Ronaldo cross and one from marauding left-back Fabio Coentrao.
Dani Alves: 6.5
On two occasions in the first half—after nine and 26 minutes—Dani Alves showed brilliant awareness to thwart Cristiano Ronaldo when he looked clean through.
Going forward, his one-two set up Cesc Fabregas for the midfielder to mishit his shot.
The Brazilian also completed 85 percent of his 54 passes and delivered seven crosses during the course of the match (via whoscored.com).
Jordi Alba: 6.5
Jordi Alba added Barcelona's goal late on, but by that time the match was completely out of their reach.
Other than that, he was his usual, industrious self exerting energy both defensively and offensively.
Two tackles and five interceptions are testament to the defensive part of his game. His goal, two key passes and several dribbles (via whoscored.com) backing up the attacking side.
Carles Puyol: 5.5
Carles Puyol was put on the floor by Angel Di Maria as the Argentinian twisted and turned in the build up to Real Madrid's second goal.
Unfortunately for Barcelona's captain, that will be the enduring image that people will be left with of him from this El Clasico.
Other than that, he defended OK, but won't be happy to have conceded three goals at home to Barca's biggest rivals.
Gerard Pique: 6
Gerard Pique protested incessantly following the awarding of Real Madrid's penalty in the first ten minutes, but he doth protest too much.
Replays showed that it was a clear penalty, Pique taking Ronaldo rather than the ball.
From there on though—other than his nasty blocking technique attacking corners—he defended OK, but not well enough to keep Madrid out.
Sergio Busquets: 7
Sergio Busquets is almost allowed to sneak under the radar as Barcelona once again showed a lack of attacking creativity when their first plan was foiled.
Deployed as the deepest midfielder, it is Busquets' job to keep the ball and start moves, not to necessarily find the killer passes.
He was successful enough at that, completing 89 percent of his 111 passes and making seven winning tackles (via whoscored.com) and forced a save from Diego Lopez in the 52nd minute.
Another typical performance from Xavi Hernandez saw him complete 92 percent of his 74 passes (via whoscored.com).
Unfortunately for Barcelona, those passes lacked an attacking incisiveness which they have come accustomed to in recent years.
With little under 20 minutes remaining, he was replaced by Thiago Alcantara.
Cesc Fabregas: 5
Cesc Fabregas endured one of his poorer nights, deployed at the front of Barcelona's midfield three.
He contributed some sloppy passes in the first half and followed them up with a mishit shot after 30 minutes.
Shortly before he was substituted—replaced just before the hour—his lack of control from an Andres Iniesta pass summed up his night.
Andres Iniesta: 7
Andres Iniesta was once again deployed on the left of Barcelona's front three as Jordi Roura stuck with the same outfield ten that lost in Milan.
Cutting inside, he had plenty of shots in the first half, all of which from distance and none of which troubling Diego Lopez.
Moved inside in the second half, he again looked more of a threat. It was his delightful chipped pass that set up the Barcelona consolation.
Lionel Messi: 5.5
For the second midweek running, for the second big game running, Lionel Messi failed to have his say.
Unlike against AC Milan, though, he did manage two shots. The first flashed wide from a tight angle and the second skimmed the post from a low free kick.
Real Madrid were more than aware of his threat though, and he often found a wall of white when he attempted to create space with his dribbling.
Pedro started well, causing Fabio Coentrao a couple of problems in the early exchanges as he looked to improve on his AC Milan performance.
It didn't quite develop from there, though, as another big game passed with which he had little input.
He was substituted with the game effectively over, but not before he had felt he was deserving of two penalties—neither given.
David Villa: 6
Cristian Tello: 6
Thiago Alcantara: 6
Not used: Victor Valdes, Javier Mascherano, Adriano, Alex Song
Diego Lopez: 7
What Diego Lopez had to do, he did fairly well as he advanced to a final where he could meet his former employers, Sevilla.
He claimed a testing cross in the first half, saved a deflected effort from Sergio Busquets in the second and demonstrated his sweeping ability just after the hour.
A save for the cameras was brought out when Cristian Tello was set through too, although the flag had gone up.
Alvaro Arbeloa: 7.5
He clattered Cesc Fabregas in the first half and picked up a booking for a foul on Andres Iniesta, but was good other than that.
Six winning tackles are reinforced by a further four interceptions and six clearances (via whoscored.com).
And when Diego Lopez saved a shot from Sergio Busquets in the second half, Arbeloa was on-hand to put the ball out for a corner.
Fabio Coentrao: 7.5
Fabio Coentrao put in another good performance to pair up with his one in the Champions League first leg clash against Manchester United.
He recovered from being given a tricky start by Pedro and defended astutely, making the necessary tackles and clearances to keep Barcelona at bay.
The Portuguese left-back could have had a goal too. Xabi Alonso sent him through but his shot was saved by Pinto.
Sergio Ramos: 7.5
Sergio Ramos put in a performance in central defense to demonstrate why he shouldn't be shifted to right back to accommodate both Pepe and Raphael Varane.
Aerially, he won nearly all of the corners which Barcelona put into the Real Madrid box.
And in the box he defended heroically, a double block in the 52nd minute was followed up with a 56th minute block which saw Madrid sweep up the other end to make it 2-0.
Raphael Varane: 8
Raphael Varane continued his emergence onto the stage as one of the best defenders in Europe.
Preferred over Pepe to partner Sergio Ramos, the young Frenchman displayed the similar maturity and defensive nous that won him the plaudits in the first leg.
And also like in the first leg, he was again on the score sheet. He rose highest to head home Mesut Ozil's corner and make it 3-0.
Xabi Alonso: 6.5
It was never likely to be a vintage performance from Xabi Alonso. The Spanish international is still searching for full fitness.
His long ball count was down from usual, although he still completed three of his four attempted (via whoscored.com), and his pass to set up Fabio Coentrao was the pass of the match.
Michael Essien replaced him in the last ten minutes.
Sami Khedira: 7
Sami Khedira's main involvement in the match was a lump forward to clear the pressure in the second half.
That lump forward sent Angel Di Maria racing clear though, and the Argentinian's shot was followed up by Cristiano Ronaldo.
In front of the Madrid back four, the German offered decent protection throughout the 90 minutes.
Mesut Ozil: 7
Mesut Ozil was as reliable as ever for Real Madrid, but was slightly outshone on the night by his two colleagues in Real Madrid's attacking triumvirate.
He did end the night with an assist though. His wicked corner caused Barcelona all sorts of problems that Raphael Varane headed home.
Defender Pepe replaced the German international after 79 minutes of hard graft.
Angel Di Maria: 8
Rather than set the tone for a clumsy night, Angel Di Maria's awkward early foul on Lionel Messi set the precedent for a hard night's work.
Defensively, his tracking of Jordi Alba to give away a corner just before half time demonstrated his work rate on the evening.
He dispossessed Andres Iniesta before going on a great run in the second half before another run put Carles Puyol on the floor and led to Real Madrid's second goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 9
Cristiano Ronaldo will be delighted to have emerged from El Clasico with his head held higher than Lionel Messi's.
It was the Portuguese forward who took on Gerard Pique, drawing the foul to win an early penalty which he duly dispatched.
Later he was in the right place at the right time to make it two, and he ended the match with a total of nine shots (via whoscored.com) and Camp Nou sick of the sight of him.
Gonzalo Higuain: 6
Gonzalo Higuain was preferred in the No. 9 role ahead of Karim Benzema, who started the first leg at the Bernabeu.
The Argentinian worked hard and linked up play on the odd occasions he was allowed to do so.
But Real Madrid's counter attacking game was much more beneficial from the likes of Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo, and Higuain was left on the fringes.
Real Madrid Substitutes:
Jose Callejon: 6
Michael Essien: 6
Not used: Adan, Luka Modric, Kaka, Karim Benzema