|Messi, Suárez, Neymar vs Espanyol
Barcelona finished off Espanyol 4-1 in their final League game of 2016 as goals from Luis Suárez, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi ensired the Cataláns finish the year in style, going above Sevilla into second on the log and just three points behind leaders Real Madrid at the summit of the table into the new year.
Barça put up one of their best displays of the season at Camp Nou on Sunday night, they were fascinating in both attack and defence and everyone played at a top level with the ball moving freely from one foot to another. The win ends Espanyol’s run of 10 consecutive games without defeat, here’s how the Blaugranas fared against their neighbours.
BARÇA 4-1 ESPANYOL PLAYER RATINGS
MARC ANDRE TER STEGEN – 6.0
Didn’t do much, passing was quite above average and he commanded his area well, faced just one shot and conceded from it, but it wasn’t his fault by any stretch of the imagination.
SERGI ROBERTO – 7.5
He’s having a wonderful season replacing Dani Alves, Roberto was superb on the right and his linkup with Messi and Denis was much better than it was with Rakitic there. Played a huge role for Barça’s 4th goal.
GERARD PIQUÉ – 7.5
One of Barça’s top performers of the season so far and once again Piqué showed his importance to the team by keeping Caicedo at bay most of the time. His passing was the best and he always seemed to know the right thing to do and when to do it. Splendid.
JAVIER MASCHERANO – 8.0
Deserves much more praise than he gets now. He’s been very solid in his last couple of games and this was no exception. A tough tackler and a beast at the back. His good tackle helped in the build up to Barça’s opener, fantastic game.
JORDI ALBA – 8.0
Another player who has improved greatly this season and it seems like the competition with Lucas Digne played a huge role in this. Grabbed a goal for himself in great fashion, his celebration wasn’t as great though. Was exquisite in both attack and defence and his concentration level has improved recently.
DENIS SUAREZ – 7.0
Preferred to Ivan Rakitic for that RCM role and he didn’t disappoint, wasn’t splendid but kept things simple and helped in the flow of the game, replaced by Rafinha in the second half.
SERGIO BUSQUETS – 7.0
Was far from bad, but wasn’t at his best and it was in the right game. He controlled his area quite well though and his understanding with Iniesta will be evergreen. Replaced by Umtiti in the second half.
ANDRÉS INIESTA – 9.0
Crazy crazy display from the Don. He was everywhere and at the heart of everything. One of the highlights of the game was his sweet control in the first half. His unbelievable long pass found Suárez for the opener, was superb to pick out Messi in the build up to the second goal. He was so great!! Best midfielder in the world no doubt.
LIONEL MESSI – 9.5
Missed a good chance early on, had a quiet first half overall but when he saw that the score was still 1-0 and the game was getting dangerous, he decided to change it. He beat four players with incredible footwork in the space of 10 seconds to set up Suárez’s second goal after his shot was saved. Then a minute later, he did it again, slicing through the Espanyol defence like a piece of cake, setting up Jordi Alba who just couldn’t believe what his eyes saw. Justice prevailed and he got a goal for himself after good link up with Suárez.
LUIS SUÁREZ – 9.0
Literally his best game this season, was like the Suarez of the latter stages of last season. His fine run helped in providing a chance for Messi early on, then he kept his calm for a perfect finish to put Barça 1-0 up. Scored his second in the second half and set up Messi with a beautiful pass for Barça’s 4th. Great game.
NEYMAR – 8.5
Still searching for his first goal in 8 competitive game, but the performance was great. Played simpler and more mature than in recent weeks, did well to present Messi with a chance early on and his run started the build up for Alba’s goal. We hope to see a better 2017.
RAFINHA ALCÁNTARA – 6.0
Replaced Denis Suárez in the second half and did all he had to do well. Passing was simple abd he wasn’t found wanting.
SAMUEL UMTITI – 6.0
Came on for Sergio Busquets late on and didn’t do anything that warrants criticism.
THE TEAM – 9.5
A near perfect performance overall in both attack and defence and this is the third consecutive game in which they’re pulling such, it’s a good thing.
LUIS ENRIQUE – 8.0
Got the lineup right, and was always there motivating his players.. couldn’t believe Messi’s show for the second goal hahaha. Credit where due, he’s learned something in the past three games.