Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi ran the show as Barcelona put four past Villarreal at Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday night.
Barcelona went back to winning ways after successive 2-2 draws in the past week as they beat Villarreal 4-1. It was an impressive outing by the visitors and possibly their best performance under Quique Setien, who lined his team up in a 4-3-1-2 formation. This time, though, Antoine Griezmann played the game as the second striker while Lionel Messi took up the no. 10 role.
Barcelona were able to make a difference to the scoreboard early in the game, when Jordi Alba’s grounded cross was tucked in by Pau Torres, who had to prevent it from reaching Griezmann. This goal was cancelled out ten minutes later as Gerard Moreno volleyed home following a ricochet off Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Luis Suarez scored in stunning fashion a few minutes later to restore the advantage and Griezmann added to it, chipping Sergio Asenjo from outside the box. After a string of chances saved by Asenjo, Barcelona put the game to bed through Ansu Fati’s goal who wrong-footed the veteran goalkeeper to get his sixth of the season. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Setien’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8/10
Barcelona’s shot-stopper was able to pull together a bunch of crucial saves from his box, denying the likes of Santi Cazorla, Carlos Bacca among others. His passing on the night, however, was far from his best. ter Stegen was able to complete just eight of his 14 attempted long balls, ending the game with an overall 79.5% passing accuracy.
Nelson Semedo: 7/10
Nelson Semedo was largely undisturbed on the right side of the Barcelona defence for most of the game. The handful of attacks that came through that side were halted by the Portuguese. Semedo could not track back in time for the only goal Villarreal scored, and that was his sole fault of the night.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
Pique marshalled his defence against Villarreal, expecting their talented strikers to constantly prove to be trouble for them, but except for that one goal, it was an easy outing for the back-line. The Spaniard ended the game with zero tackles, blocks and interceptions combined, but does boast of 95% passing accuracy from the night. He also won all of his aerial duels; being 6’4″ must help.
Clement Lenglet: 8/10
Another impressive display from the Frenchman, who seems to be indispensable for Setien at the moment. Lenglet completed 98 out of 102 passes (96%), winning 3/3 of his aerial duels and making two clutch interceptions. He was also able to create a crucial chance for Griezmann that fell just out of reach for his compatriot.
Jordi Alba: 9/10
It was a near-flawless night for Jordi Alba, who was a part of every attack Barcelona pioneered. He quickly grabbed an assist early on in the game when Pau Torres tucked in his cross, which was intended for Griezmann.
He was able to grab another one late in the game, releasing Ansu Fati was a perfect long ball. Defensively, he was able to keep the brilliant Samuel Chukwueze at bay and was only dribbled past once in the entire game. A strong overall performance from the seasoned international.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
One of the more forgettable performances of the night, and definitely his worst of the season, Vidal was an attacking disasterclass. His intelligent runs into the box meant he was at the end of everything good for Barcelona, only for him to not be able to convert any chance. His tremendous shift in defence earns him a 6, which could have easily been a 4.
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
Barcelona’s anchor seems to benefit the most from the system change as he always has passing options near him and does not have to resort to playing the ball back. Busquets completed 4/5 long balls and won 5/7 duels. More importantly, though, he seemed to be more confident on the ball and started several moves for Barcelona through defence-splitting passes.
Sergi Roberto: 9/10
Roberto started in an unusual spot for Barcelona, playing left-of-centre in a three-man midfield. He was given the job of supplementing Alba in defence to stop Chukwueze. However, his performance in attack was much more commendable. The Spaniard started the move for the first two goals, and grabbed an assist in the second half to show for his impressive 90 minutes.
Lionel Messi: 9.5/10
Another game, another brilliant performance by Lionel Messi, who assisted two goals against Villarreal, taking his tally to 19 for the season – a personal best. Messi was the heart of all moves Barcelona created and could have had two more assists had it not been for poor finishing from Braithwaite and Suarez.
The Argentine scored in the second half as well, after a stellar move which was eventually chalked off for offside. Messi also struck the post in the 90th minute from a free-kick.
Antoine Griezmann: 10/10
Griezmann returned to the starting lineup against Villarreal and put in his best shift in a Barcelona shirt, which stems from being used as a second-striker – a role he made his own under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.
The world champion scored a ridiculous goal on the brink of half-time, chipping Sergi Asenjo from nearly 25 yards out to take his tally to nine for the season. The Frenchman could have had two assists as well if it was not for poor finishing from Vidal.
— kaniel outis. (@Chulu_Nobala) July 5, 2020
As always, Griezmann tucked back and defended for as long as he was on the pitch. He ended the game with a 98% passing accuracy, two key passes, 100% long pass accuracy, and one clutch tackle that stopped the Villarreal counter-attack in its tracks. Did not put a foot wrong.
Luis Suarez: 7.5/10
A typical performance from Suarez, who blew hot and cold on the night. The Uruguayan missed a 1v1 in the first half, but then scored a stunning goal from outside the box to curl it around Asenjo, who did not see it coming. Suarez also created a brilliant chance for Vidal who put it wide. He was taken off with half-an-hour remaining to avoid fatigue; likely to start against Espanyol.
Riqui Puig: 8/10
At the moment, Puig simply does not fail to impress. For the third game running, the youngster did not put a foot wrong, creating one chance, completing 2/2 long balls, 100% dribbles and 3/3 of his ground duels. Puig was Barcelona’s best performer in the second half, where the Blaugrana took their sweet time building attacks after putting the game to bed in the first half.
Ivan Rakitic: 7.5/10
Rakitic came on for Nelson Semedo at the hour mark and slotted in the role of Roberto, who shifted to right-back. Rakitic completed 100% of his passes (26/26), which includes a stellar long ball to Messi that was that would have put him through on goal if the first touch was lighter. The Croat made several forward runs and won two set-pieces. Been balling since the restart.
Ansu Fati: 8/10
17-year-old Ansu Fati already had the world at his feet at the moment, and only added to his plaudits on Sunday after his goal. Fati was able to control Alba’s long ball perfectly on the left wing, tucking it onto his right, beating veteran Raul Albiol before embarrassing Asenjo, who was completely taken out of the equation with his finish at the near post.
Martin Braithwaite: 7/10
In another game, against a different keeper, Braithwaite would have probably scored two in the 17 minutes he completed on the pitch. However, Asenjo’s acrobatic efforts kept the Danish striker at bay both times. Apart from this, not a lot for Braithwaite to do.
Ronald Araujo: N/A
Araujo clocked in only eight minutes, coming on for Pique to see the game out. Ideally, a situation like this would warrant no rating, but Araujo put his body on the line to block off Bacca in the closing minutes, a shot that would have closed the goal difference on the night to two.