Ansu Fati starred as Barcelona kicked off their 2020/21 La Liga campaign with a thumping 4-0 victory against Villarreal this past weekend.
Barcelona began a new era under Ronald Koeman in style as they thrashed Unai Emery’s Villarreal 4-0 at Camp Nou in their first La Liga game of the season on Sunday.
Teenage sensation Ansu Fati got the Catalans off the mark early in the game, with an unstoppable finish from a Jordi Alba cutback. The academy ace quickly got his second with a composed strike after being sent through by Philippe Coutinho.
Fati continued to torment the Villarreal defence, and won a penalty a little after the hour mark, drawing a foul from Mario Gaspar. Up stepped Lionel Messi and found the back of the net, before the Argentine’s teasing cross turned into his own net by Villarreal defender Pau Torres on the verge of half-time to make it 4-0.
Barcelona could have added a couple more post half-time if not for Sergio Asenjo in the Villarreal goal, while Neto also made a couple of decent stops late in the game to preserve his clean sheet. It was an impressive start to the season by the Blaugrana and here’s how we rated the performances of the Barcelona stars.
FULL TIME! pic.twitter.com/FMUcRR1pqf
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 27, 2020
Starting in goal in Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s absence, Neto had a comfortable outing with Villarreal hardly threatening throughout the game. Stayed alert to make a couple of good stops to deny Takefusa Kubo late in the game.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
The Barcelona right-back didn’t have a lot of defending to do on the night, but wasn’t as effective going forward as his teammate on the opposite flank. Did show good energy and had a few positive moments linking up with Messi, but his place will be under threat once Sergino Dest arrives.
Gerard Pique: 6.5/10
The veteran centre-half was a solid presence at the back for Barcelona, as he read the game well to cut off any danger. Did well to ensure that the dangerous Gerard Moreno never burst into life on the night.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
An assured performance from the Frenchman, who was sound defensively. But, it was his use of possession that caught the eye on the night. Set Jordi Alba off with a long ball in the lead-up to the opening goal and had a hand in the second one as well. Made some key interceptions to cap off an impressive outing.
Jordi Alba: 8/10
❗Official — Jordi Alba has been chosen as today's 'Man of The Match'! Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/Ym8WLiyJkO
— OWURA YESU (@jacobOwusu17) September 27, 2020
After a rough ending to the last season, the Spaniard turned back the clock on Sunday night, as he romped up and down the left flank with great energy and dynamism. Set Fati up for the opening goal with a sharp pass and forced a save from Asenjo soon after. Linked up well with the attacking unit and caused havoc down the left-hand side.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
Starting in a midfield double pivot, the veteran Barcelona midfielder didn’t look all too comfortable early in the game, playing a few stray passes, while he looked off the pace as well. But, Busquets grew into the role as the game went on and helped his team control the proceedings. But, with Miralem Pjanic waiting on the sidelines, Busquets will need to up his game or risk losing his spot.
Frenkie de Jong: 6.5/10
Solid, if not spectacular. The Dutchman already looks more comfortable and at home in a system that is familiar to him. This allowed him to push forward and play incisive passes forward to try and set his teammates up for chances. Could prove to be the biggest beneficiary of Koeman’s arrival at the club.
Antoine Griezmann: 5.5/10
Worked hard off the ball and his movement helped create spaces for those around him, but was ineffective in an overall sense. Had the fewest touches of all the Barcelona attackers that started and did not conjure a single shot on goal. Given the huge financial outlay that Barcelona spent on him, Griezmann needs to start contributing more meaningfully. More so, now that Luis Suarez has left the club.
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
📊 — The stats from Coutinho tonight. pic.twitter.com/mtt2pa8IEL
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) September 27, 2020
Back at Barcelona after a successful loan stint at Bayern Munich, Coutinho has been given a new lease on life at Camp Nou by Koeman and he accepted it gleefully. Combined well with the likes of Messi and Fati in the final third, showing good movement and vision. Set Fati up for the second goal after leading a counter from within his own half.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
After having come so close to leaving the club, Lionel Messi took the field and showed why he is so important to this Barcelona team. Scored from the penalty spot and it was his cross that Torres inadvertently put in his own net. Could have had more if not for Asenjo’s presence in the Villarreal goal. Irrespective of what is going on off the pitch, the captain stepped up for the team.
Ansu Fati: 9/10
If you didn’t already know it, now you do – Ansu Fati is a superstar in the making. Was all over the Villarreal defence like a rash and took both his goals brilliantly before winning the penalty to kill the game off single-handedly in the first half.
Was a major threat throughout, showed good understanding with his teammates, while his decision-making has also improved greatly. Looks set for an integral role in Koeman’s revolution at Camp Nou.
◾︎ Two goals in the first 19 minutes
◾︎ Won a penalty
◾︎ Spain debut and first Spain goal earlier in the month
Ansu Fati is taking the world by storm ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/ei6kW1ApBh
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 27, 2020
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
Came on to replace Fati in the 70th minute and looked sharp and purposeful. Made some positive runs down the left flank. Barcelona will be hoping he has an injury-free campaign this time out.
Making his debut for the Catalans, the teenage attacking midfielder looked bright and dynamic during his 20-minute cameo. Should get more minutes going forward based on the performance.
Francisco Trincao: N/A
Made his debut, coming on for Griezmann in the 78th minute. Almost marked it with a goal, only for Asenjo to make a fine save.
Miralem Pjanic: N/A
Came on for Busquets with just over 10 minutes left. Showed good intent in the middle during his short cameo.