Barcelona suffered a shock home defeat as Dani Alvesa clumsy back pass gifted Malaga the only goal of the game.
Barcelonaa s run of 11 wins came to a shocking end at their fortress, Nou Camp. Barcelona fell to Malaga at home as they conceded an early goal on a night which ended in dismay for the Blaugrana. Luis Enriquea s side failed to score a goal despite Barcelona enjoying 71 percent of possession and attempting 11 shots, five of which were on target.
Barcelona conceded early in the game as a clearance from Kameni landed in the home sidea s half and Dani Alves looked to send it towards Claudio Bravo. However, it was a clumsy attempt from Alves as Juanmi sensed the opportunity and sprinted ahead of Alves to latch on to the ball and beat Bravo to score the opener. After Barcelona conceded the early goal, they tried hard to break the disciplined defence of Malaga, but failed despite having a lot of time in hand.
The narrow defeat dooms trouble for Barcelona as they have give Real Madrid the chance to extend their lead to four points and may have raised the confidence of Manchester City as the English side gears up to face Barcelona in the Champions League round-of-16.
Here is a look at how the Barcelona players faired against Malaga.
Claudio Bravo, 6/10
Bravo was beaten by Juanmi in less than 10 minutes into the game. However, the Chile international simply cannot be blamed for the goal as there was nothing he could do to save it. Just minutes after conceding the opener, Bravo denied Malaga with a decisive, instinctive save. The keeper didna t have much to do for the latter parts of the game and was largely unchallenged by the Malaga attackers.
Dani Alves, 5/10
If anyone will be blamed for this defeat, it will undoubtedly be Dani Alves. The Brazilian will be hoping to erase this match from his memory as soon as possible. Alves failed to get a grip throughout the game and the early blunder which led to the opener has to be the reason behind it. His terrible pass toward Bravo was easily read by Juanmi and as Alves realised what was happening he just could not track the striker and save his team from embarrassment. Overall, it was not a memorable night for the right-back.
Gerard Pique, 6.5/10
Gerard Pique had a good game overall. The Spaniard made some important tackles and was very strong in the air. In the dying moments of the game, Pique moved up to attack as Barcelona became desperate to grab at least one point from the game. However, that equaliser never came, though Pique got himself a shot on target. Pique had a good game defensively, making three tackles and same number of interceptions.
Jeremy Mathieu, 6/10
The centre-back was good defensively as he made six tackles and three interceptions throughout the game, also winning six aerial battles. However, failed to block a couple of shots that could have extend Malagaa s lead, but helped in the attack with some simple and accurate passes.
Jordi Alba, 6.5/10
The left-back worked hard to stop Juanmi from scoring the goal but failed to do so and he cannot be blamed for not trying. The speedy Spaniard pushed forward from time-to-time, using his blistering pace to get into attacking areas. He also tested the Malaga backline with a few unexpected crosses, but failed to make much of an impact. He gets a bonus 0.5 for his commitment.
Sergio Busquets, 6/10
The Catalan did a good job in defence making some vital interceptions. However, Busquets failed to control the midfield and at times left some empty space to exploit in the centre of the field. The Spaniard did not make any notable contribution in attack.
Rafinhaa s work-rate and defensive contribution was remarkable throughout the game. However, the midfielder contributed very little going forward and failed to help Barca come back into the game.
This was the kind of a game where Iniestaa s experience could have made a huge difference. However, the Spaniard failed to break through the Malaga defence and had a largely disappointing game. He had a great chance to score off a free header, but was unable to beat Kameni.
Barcelona needed Messi to get forward and break through the Malaga defence and get his name on the scoresheet and be the hero. However, the Argentine disappointed in that department. Yet, it cannot be said that Messi had a bad game. Leo Messi made some effective forward passes and tried his best to break the well-organised defensive system by the visitors. He showed determination and commitment to create chances for his teammates, but definitely was not at his best.
On the rarest of rare days when Messi could not score, the Barca fans might have expected that Suarez will step up on such occasions. However, the former Liverpool striker failed to do so against a very tight defence. He created space and got into physical battles with the defender and tried his best to get his team back into the game. However, the Uruguayan failed to do it.
Not the best game for the Brazilian as he tried to break through the defence with his pace and dribbling skills. Definitely wasna t at his usual best as at times he failed to beat his marker and never threatened the goalkeeper.
(Rakitic, 6/10, Pedro 6/10, Macherano, NA)