Barcelona

Unsung Hero: Criticism of FC Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets’ display against Eibar misplaced

Unsung Hero: Criticism of FC Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets’ display against Eibar misplaced

FC Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets was wrongly criticised for a ‘scrappy’ display against Eibar, which led to ESPN suggesting the Spaniard was Ernesto Valverde’s weak link in midfield with misplaced accusations.

Busquets returned to Valverde’s starting line-up at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Saturday, and lined up alongside Arthur Melo and Frenkie de Jong for only the third time in a La Liga game, after falling to the bench against Sevilla prior to the international break (TransferMarkt).

Yet while ESPN lauded de Jong and Arthur for their performances against Eibar, they criticised Busquets for his, as the veteran midfield anchor was ‘scrappy on the ball’ and appeared to be the weak link of the three.

ESPN praised de Jong to the point the Dutchman was awarded a joint-Barcelona-high eight out of ten match rating, with the summer arrival from Ajax said to have been rightly given a standing ovation by the home supporters as he was everywhere while on the field and is firmly growing into his more advanced role.

Arthur, meanwhile, was praised for his forward-thinking play as he establishes himself as Valverde’s first-choice option in midfield, and one that rarely turns over possession.

Busquets, though, would end the midday encounter at Eibar with an 86% pass success rate compared to Arthur’s 70%, per WhoScored data, and directed 56 of his 80 passes forward compared to his Brazilian partner’s 26 from 48.

The Sabadell-born 31-year-old’s 69 accurate passes was a tally only Clement Lenglet could better with 70, as well, while Busquets also played eight long balls to Arthur’s six and de Jong’s three, although the former Ajax man was the only one of Barcelona’s starting midfielders to record a key ball.

Busquets’ influential presence extended beyond his extensive pass charts, too, as the three-time Champions League winner spent more time in possession than any player for either side, penned the most touches with 92, won Barcelona’s third-most aerial duels with two and was never dispossessed by an Eibar man.

Only Jordi Alba and Eibar’s Sergio Alvarez and Pablo De Blasis attempted more tackles than Busquets, as well, while the 6 ft 2 holding midfielder ranked joint-fifth overall for clearances with two.

ESPN noted in their player ratings that Busquets was ‘far from a disaster’ if you were to ignore his wayward passes in the first half, but the 115-cap Spain international was far from a disaster as Barcelona moved atop the La Liga table regardless.

Barca fans, how would you rate Busquets performance on Saturday? Let us know in the comments below…

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