Barcelona player ratings as Coutinho shines with goal in victory at Malaga

Andy West 11/03/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
On the scoresheet: Expensive buy Philippe Coutinho.

Barcelona‘s seemingly relentless march towards the La Liga title continued on Saturday as they brushed aside 10-man Malaga at La Rosaleda.

Even without star man Lionel Messi, who was with his wife following the birth of their third son, Barca had too much for their hosts as they recorded a 22nd win in 28 league games this season.

The contest was as good as over inside the opening half-hour with Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho putting Barca 2-0 up before Samu Garcia was sent off.

The Malaga winger was shown a straight red card in the 30th minute after flying in on Jordi Alba, leaving the Spain full-back writhing in agony.

Although Barca could not add to their goal tally against La Liga’s bottom club – who have now picked up just two points from a possible 36 since their last win – they had already done more than enough for the victory.

Ernesto Valverde’s unbeaten side are now 11 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who face Celta Vigo on Sunday. Real Madrid remain 15 points adrift of the leaders after Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to earn them a 2-1 win at Eibar.

Here, we look at Barca’s player ratings:

Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6: Had hardly anything to do, but performed whatever was needed with cool competence.

Sergi Roberto – 7: A quietly excellent performance at right-back, becoming more of an attacking presence as the game went on and starting to develop a good understanding with Dembele. Replaced with 15 minutes remaining.

Gerard Pique – 8: Continuing to play through a knee injury, but doesn’t looked bothered by his bandage and did everything right. Never looked troubled by Malaga’s attack and always used the ball constructively.

Samuel Umtiti – 7: Always in the right place at the right time and generally as solid as houses, but sparked one Malaga attack by needlessly conceding possession in midfield. Could have scored with a close-range header in the second-half.

Jordi Alba – 8: Delivered one of the assists of the season with a gorgeous angled cross straight onto Suarez’s head for the opener. Victim of an outrageous challenge by Samu but recovered to deliver his usual motoring performance down the left, before being rested for the final stages.

Ivan Rakitic – 7: Cruised through the contest in midfield. Sent a 20-yard strike curling just wide and another shot too close to Roberto. Almost looked bored by the end, so easy was he finding the game.

Sergio Busquets – 8: Captained the team in the absence of Messi and Iniesta and led by example with a cool and composed display. Misplaced a pass in the 22nd minute (yes, really!) but otherwise impeccable.

Paulinho – 6: Playing in an advanced role, he delivered a beautiful pass for Suarez’s early chance. Fired into the side-netting in another link-up with Suarez and was bright in the first-half, but faded badly after the break.

Ousmane Dembele – 7: Recorded a nice assist with a neat turn and cut-back for Coutinho to score. Building his confidence with some nifty flicks, tricks and dribbles, but was occasionally let down by his final ball. Less impact near the end and was replaced with five minutes left.

Luis Suarez – 7: Hard-charging performance. Unlucky not to score with an early low shot but made no mistake with a pinpoint header a minute later. Was a threat throughout but produced an embarrassing air-shot midway through the second half. Booked near the end and will miss the next game.

Philippe Coutinho – 7: Playing on the left of a front three, he made it 2-0 with a wonderfully flicked back-heel from Dembele’s cross. Heavily involved throughout and could have scored more, always looking to shoot from long-range, but occasionally sloppy in possession.

SUBSTITUTES

Andrew Gomes – 6: A new position for the Portuguese international, who came on at right-back for Roberto and performed competently.

Lucas Digne – 6: Relieved Alba at left-back for the final stages. Comfortable in his role and got forward well.

Aleix Vidal: Came on for Dembele near the end and had very little involvement.

Most popular

Lionel Messi pulls out of Barcelona squad to face Malaga

David Cooper 10/03/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Messi, whose wife is pregnant with the couple’s third child, has been replaced by Yerry Mina for Saturday’s clash (11:45pm UAE time).

Argentinean Messi has four goals in his last three leagues games for leaders Barca, who could go 11 points clear with victory at the La Rosaleda Stadium.

Most popular

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde dismisses Neymar talk and looks ahead to Malaga clash

David Cooper 10/03/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde.

Neymar will not be heading back to Barcelona, according to coach Ernesto Valverde.

Reports in Spain suggested that the Brazilian could make a return to his former club from Paris Saint-Germain where he is currently injured – and reportedly unsettled.

But Valverde described the story as “a fantasy” as he held his pre-match press conference ahead of Barca’s La Liga trip to Malaga on Saturday (kick-off 23:45 UAE).

After their win over nearest rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend, Barcelona are eight points clear at the top – and still unbeaten in the league.


Malaga were the last team to defeat Barcelona in La Liga, with a 2-0 win last April.








Barcelona’s players welcomed a special visitor at their training session ahead of the match, when they were joined by Benjamin Suarez, son of striker Luis.



Most popular