Victor Valdes - 6 out of 10 - The Catalan Cat was consistent throughout the season and ended up winning his 5th Zamora trophy in La Liga. Having said that, I felt he could have performed better during the crucial week when we lost against Real Madrid and got knocked out against Chelsea. To be fair to Victor Valdes though, the Barcelona style of play leaves the keeper facing striker one-on-one in many occasions. A tough job!
Victor Valdes stat: Only 42 goals received in 51 appearances.
Dani Alves - 7 out of 10 - The Brazilian right-back was affected by Pep Guardiola's return to Johan Cruyff's classic 3-4-3 formation and suffered as a result. In previous seasons, Dani Alves was unstoppable when joining our attack and defended intensively. Unfortunately, this was not always the case this year. I definitely didn't enjoy watching his stupid dance while winning 0-7 at Rayo Vallecano. What was he thinking?
Dani Alves stat: 3 goals and 18 assists in 52 appearances, slightly worse than 4/20 in 54 last season.
Gerard Pique - 6 out of 10 - The Catalan Giant failed to improve on his previous seasons. While it can be argued that he suffered from injuries during the first third of the year, the truth is he didn't reach his best at any point. Pique look vulnerable at times, especially when challenged by quality strikers. His behavior off the pitch affected his relationship with coach Guardiola, who benched him when it most mattered. His Shakira-waka-waka story didn't help either.
Gerard Pique stat: Only 38 appearances, a massive drop from the 51 during 2010/11.
Cesc Fabregas - 7 out of 10 - After many years of trying to come back to Barcelona, the Fab4 took no time at all to adapt to Guardiola's formation and impressed with his confidence in front of goal, especially during the first third of the season. I must say that his goalscoring spark slowly faded away as the year progressed, as he focused more on creating plays rather than finishing them. Needs to improve even further to fully justify his 39 Million € price-tag.
Cesc Fabregas stat: 48 appearances, his best record since 2006/07.
Carles Puyol - 7 out of 10 - El Capità bounced back to form after a disastrous run with injuries last season which, let's not forget, even made him consider retiring from football altogether. I must say Puyol has not returned to his former fitness but, overall, the qualty of his performances has been remarkable. Sure, he is not as fast as he used to be but, on the plus side, I must point out that his mere presence motivates every other player around him. A true leader who, at 34 years of age, can continue to help the team next season.
Carles Puyol stat: 5 goals, his best return ever since his debut in 1999/00.
Xavi Hernandez - 9 out of 10 - If there is a player who represents what Barcelona is about, that is The Catalan Commander: Millimetric passing, constant dedication, generous effort and unlimited class. Despite suffering from ongoing muscle injuries, Xavi has managed to lead the Blaugrana midfield, always making himself available to organize the team around him, comfortable to take responsibility when things turned ugly. This year, Xavi even stepped up as a regular goalscorer.
Xavi Hernandez stat: 14 goals, his best ever, nearly three times better than last season.
David Villa - 6 out of 10 - El Guaje's injury last December was arguably the biggest blow to Barcelona this season. His mobility, ability to attract defenders and, above all, goalscoring instinct was deeply missed during the second half of the year. I can't help but wonder what we could have achieved with Villa on the pitch, rather than watching from the stands. While the start of his season was far from spectacular, I am certain he would have been the support Lionel Messi so desperately needed.
David Villa stat: Only 24 appearances, his lowest ever.
Andres Iniesta - 7 out of 10 - Don Andres had a good season, always willing to try out of the ordinary to break rival defenses. His ability to create chances out of nowhere is second-to-none in world football. Having said that, I would have loved to see something special from him when titles where decided. As most of team, Iniesta looked exhausted when the Champions League semifinals came. He failed to improve his previous goalscoring record in a season when lack of goals was Barcelona's main problem.
Andres Iniesta stat: With 47 appearances, Iniesta has played over 42 games per season since 2004/05.
Alexis Sanchez - 7 out of 10 - The Chilean Wonderkid landed at the Camp Nou after Barcelona agreed a deal worth a potential 37 Million € with Udinese. At the time, I thought it was risky to pay such a massive amount of money for a player who had only scored 12 goals the previous season. I must say that, after a whole year at the Camp Nou, I have seen glimpses of greatness from our 23-year-old Chilean striker. Alexis has enough skill and pace to succeed at the Camp Nou. I personally love how aggressively he defends whenever he loses the ball. I hope injuries respect him more next season so Barcelona fans can see what he is capable of.
Alexis Sanchez stat: 15 goals, his best since his professional debut in 2005/06 at only 17 years of age.
Lionel Messi - 10 out of 10 - Seriously, rating La Pulga's season is a no-brainer: Best ever Pichichi in La Liga with 50 goals, top-goalscorer of the Champions League for the fourth consecutive time, proud holder of Barcelona's best ever goalscoring record (253, and counting)... As I explained here, I just wish his teammates had performed at their usual level - We would definitely be celebrating 6 out of 6 titles this season. Messi is a living legend!
Lionel Messi stat: 73 goals, more than any other player in over 120 years of football history.
Thiago Alcantara - 7 out of 10 - The Samba Boy started the season full of confidence, mainly due to his tremendous performances with Spain in the Under-21 European Championship last summer. Many experts predicted Cesc Fabregas would steal most of his playing time but, fortunately, they were wrong. Thiago has taken another step forward in his development, always eager to make things happen in midfield, not afraid to take risks. At 21-years-old, his best is yet to come: Thiago is another Barcelona future leader in the making.
Thiago stat: 45 appearances, building on the mere 17 last season.
Jose Manuel Pinto - 8 out of 10 - Despite never really challenging Victor Valdes for his spot, Barcelona's reserve keeper performed really well in the Copa Del Rey, helping the team lift the title. At 37 years-old, decent performances, being a good teammate and his positive influence on Lionel Messi will keep him at the Camp Nou next season.
Jose Manuel Pinto stat: Only 5 goals conceeded in 9 Copa Del Rey appearances.
Javier Mascherano - 9 out of 10 - Muscle Masche was probably the best thing that happened to Barcelona all year. Guardiola's genius decision to use his defensive midfielder as a central defender ensured Barcelona had at least one fit, powerful, focused player in our back line throughout the whole season. The Argentine also became more vocal within the dressing room, often facing the media whenever the team had a bad result. I expect Mascherano to assume an even greater leadership role next season.
Javier Mascherano stat: 52 appearances, his best ever since his professional debut back in 2003.
Seydou Keita - 7 out of 10 - The African midfielder continued to have a secondary role within the Barcelona team, often being used as a substitute who could ensure more consistency in our team. Guardiola continued to praise him whenever he had the chance but I personally feel he will not enjoy that much playing time next season. I would be happy if he stayed at the Camp Nou but would also be pleased to accept any offers around or above 12 Million € to let him leave if that was his wish.
Seydou Keita stat: 26 La Liga appearances but only 14 starts.
Sergio Busquets - 9 out of 10 - The best compliment I can pay The Catalan Octopus is that Barcelona looked much more vulnerable whenever he didn't play. Despite Xavi and Iniesta getting much more recognition from the media, Busquets is ket to keep the Blaugrana machine working. His ability to play the ball simply and pressurize opponents into continuous mistakes is priceless.
Sergio Busquets stat: 191 appearances in the last 4 years.
Pedro Rodriguez - 5 out of 10 - After a couple of impressive seasons, Cules were expecting El Canario take a step forward this season and establish himself among the world's best. Unfortunately, he didn't. A desperately annoying fight against injuries, added to the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, affected Pedro's confidence and, ultimately, his performances on the pitch. Pedro's inability to reach his full potential, added to David Villa's long-term absence, was key to Barcelona failing to retain the La Liga or Champions League titles.
Pedro Rodriguez stat: 13 goals and 3 assists, a significant drop from 22 plus 10 last season.
Ibrahim Afellay - 5 out of 10 - The Dutch international missed most of the season due to injury and has been unable to prove his worth as a result. I do feel his best is yet to come though, as he has shown glimpses of his raw pace and skill whenever he has played for Barcelona.
Ibrahim Afellay stat: 5 appearances.
Adriano - 7 out of 10 - The efficient Brazilian defender performed well, with Guardiola using him as a full-back or winger at different stages of the season. Adriano was one of those players every successful team needs: Disciplined, professional, strong and ready to help. In a year where Barcelona was severely weakened by constant injuries, having Adriano as a fit, reliable option was a blessing.
Adriano stat: 40 appearances, improving on his 31 in 2010/11.
Eric Abidal - 7 out of 10 - The French Bull famously bounced back to form after his miraculous recovery that enabled him to lift the 2010/11 Champions League trophy at Wembley. Many doubters believed Abidal was past his best - They were wrong. Seeing the 32-year-old beating younger strikers after his surgery was one of the highlights of Barcelona's season. Unfortunately, Eric was forced to go back to hospital for the second consecutive season for yet another life-or-death operation. The French Bull seems to be recovering well and is expected to come back to the Camp Nou at some stage next season. Looking forward to it.
Eric Abidal stat: 38 appearances despite undergoing surgery in April.
Isaac Cuenca - 7 out of 10 - The Skinny Flamingo initially impressed the Camp Nou with his fresh approach to the game, his fearless approach to dribbling opponents and ability to cross from the wings. I must say his performances became less and less remarkable as the season advanced, perhaps affected by the arrival of Cristian Tello - a more confident winger who found the net much more easily.
Isaac Cuenca stat: 4 goals, 8 assists and 30 appearances in his Barcelona debut season.
Andreu Fontas - 5 out of 10 - The Catalan defender remained a backup player who Guardiola only used whenever everyone else was missing. He picked a long-term injury in January and has been sidelined since. Fontas needs to prove his worth soon if he wants to succeed at the Camp Nou.
Andreu Fontas stat: 6 appearances.
My Barcelona Analysis 2011/12
Best Player: Lionel Messi
Most Disappointing Player: Pedro Rodriguez
Best Moment: Beating Real Madrid 1-3 at El Bernabeu
Worst Moment: Failing to beat Chelsea at the Camp Nou in the Champions League semifinals
Team Of The Season: Valdes - Alves Mascherano Puyol Abidal - Busquets Xavi Cesc - Iniesta Messi Alexis
Next Season's Team: Valdes - Alves Mascherano Pique Alba - Busquets Xavi Iniesta - Villa Messi Alexis
Players To Be Signed: Jordi Alba, Javi Martinez
Players To Be Sold: Keita (only offers over 12M€ to be accepted, otherwise keep), Cuenca (only offers over 15M€), Afellay (only offers over 20M€)
Players To Be Loaned: Fontas, Cuenca, Tello, Dos Santos
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Posted by: Francesc Tomàs
Founder and Columnist at www.barcablog.com
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