First half goals from Antoine Griezmann and Arthur Melo helped Barcelona seal a 2-1 victory over Villarreal at Camp Nou on Tuesday night.
After succumbing to a defeat to Granada this past weekend, Barcelona returned to winning ways on Tuesday, as they defeated Javier Calleja’s Villarreal 2-1 at home.
Ernesto Valverde’s men were under pressure to deliver after a couple of disappointing results and they started brightly, with marquee summer signing Antoine Griezmann heading a Lionel Messi cross into the net just seven minutes in. Barcelona doubled their lead eight minutes later through Arthur’s powerful driven effort from distance.
Villarreal pulled a goal back on the verge of half-time, with Santi Cazorla putting the finishing touches to a fine passing move. There were very few chances after the half-time break for either team. Cazorla forced a save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while Luis Suarez called Sergio Asenjo into action once with a tame effort.
Barça pick up 3️⃣ big points!
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 24, 2019
The Yellow Submarine tried hard but could not find the equaliser as the Catalans held firm to secure a much-needed victory. The win sees Barcelona move to fourth in the La Liga table, a point shy of leaders Granada. And here’s how we rated the performances of Valverde’s men after a welcome win.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
The German international could have done better for Cazorla’s goal even though it was a brilliant hit and the ball swerved a lot on its way into the back of the net. Did make a straightforward stop to deny the former Arsenal man after the break. A comfortable outing for the goalkeeper.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
An improved performance after a few dodgy games. Wasn’t tested all that much defensively by Javi Ontiveros, while he provided a decent outlet going forward down the right flank. But, his end product needs improvement.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
The seasoned defender looked much more assured than he has in recent matches as he kept the opponents at bay for most parts of the game. Helped his side build play from the back with his precise passing and drew a save from Asenjo late in the game from a free-kick.
Clement Lenglet: 6/10
The Frenchman, much like his partner at the heart of the defence, put in an improved display after having struggled in recent fixtures. Ensured Villarreal had very few opportunities to test his goalkeeper, with a particular block on Samuel Chukwueze in the second half standing out. Should build on this performance.
Junior Firpo: 6/10
Recovered from his error against Granada at the weekend with a fairly solid performance. Defended well, especially in one-on-one situations. Made some good runs forward on the left side, but the final ball was lacking.
Sergi Roberto: 4.5/10
Another start in the middle of the park for the Barcelona academy graduate. Another dull performance where he offered very little thrust going forward and did not help out much on the defensive side of things either. Seems better suited to the right-back slot.
Sergio Busquets: 6.5/10
Returning to the starting XI after sitting out the Granada clash, the midfielder showed his value to the side with a solid display at the base of the midfield. Screened his defence well and kept things ticking in the middle.
Arthur Melo: 7/10
Back into the lineup for the midweek clash, the Brazilian international scored Barcelona’s second goal of the night with a brilliant hit from almost thirty yards out. Worked hard in the middle of the park and was positive and forward-thinking with his distribution. Should be a part of the starting lineup for each game.
Lionel Messi: 6.5/10
Making his first start of the season, the Barcelona captain started strongly, setting up the opening goal for Griezmann with a cross. But, a muscular problem he picked up near the half-hour mark meant he was taken off at half-time.
Luis Suarez: 4/10
A third underwhelming display in a row from the Uruguayan international who hardly got going against Villarreal on Tuesday night. Had a couple of decent opportunities that he failed to capitalise upon, while he often gave away the ball when in dangerous positions.
Antoine Griezmann: 7/10
A promising display from the Frenchman, who took his goal well to open the scoring for Barcelona on the night. Linked up well with his attacking partners, especially with Messi when he was on the field. Almost had a second goal late in stoppage time.
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
Marked his return from injury replacing the injured Messi at half-time and was a lively presence in attack throughout his time on the field. Could have had an assist, but Suarez couldn’t beat the Villarreal goalkeeper.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Came on for Roberto just a little after the hour-mark. Was a major improvement on the man he replaced as he provided Barcelona with more control in the middle of the park, helping them see the game out.
Ansu Fati: 7/10
Replaced Suarez with a little over ten minutes left on the clock and continued to display the bags of talent he possesses. Could have scored a goal and had a penalty shout denied. Exciting cameo.