An exciting and confident Barcelona paved their way to torment the whole La Cerámica for the 90 minutes and got the vital 3 points to keep their chances intact to win the La Liga. This has to be the most complete Barcelona performance in a while. Everything was just spot on by the Catalans who scored 4 on the night against a tricky Villarreal side who are fighting to enter the top 4 in the league table. In this player rating segment, I will be introducing manager rating as well based on a lot of factors like subs, tactics, game plan, key changes made etc in the end.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen(6.7/10):
The German wall was not hassled much throughout the night but whenever Villareal had a chance to counter, Ter Stegen and the centre backs were immediately found facing Villareal’s pacy, smart forwards who would pounce on every mistake by the defence. Unlucky for MATS, that he wasn’t able to keep a clean sheet but he would be really happy with the team’s performance tonight.
Alba under Setien is improving match by match and today it was clearly visible on how much of a danger he is to the opposition defence. It is safe to say that he had a complete performance. Overlapping, link-up play, cutbacks, crosses, holding the width, he did it all. As a result, he almost got an assist but it was an own goal by Pau Torres. Also, he was very near to scoring a goal but got unlucky.
Unlike the previous performances, Lenglet wasn’t quite up to the level he was. As a matter of fact, his positional error led to Villareal scoring an equalizer on the night. Other than that, he was doing his job well and was containing Moreno as much as he could. Though sometimes I thought that he was jumping forward and constantly leaving his position but Villareal failed to capitalize it. Maybe a bad day in the office.
Like the Celta Match, Pique was again getting wind up in a 1v1 or 2v1 situation constantly but the Spaniard like always found possible solutions by suppressing the forwards. Majorly, he was very much involved in the 2nd phase of play by making correct passes to Busquets and also sometimes was in the middle of the park to link play. Though he got scooped up by that Alcacer cheeky turn but it doesn’t matter.
The more I see Semedo, the more I think that Barcelona instead of pursuing long term targets like Lautaro or Neymar, should rather focus on signing a right back. For the majority of the first half, Barcelona was only creating from the left side and Semedo was hardly getting any touches. He was subbed out during 60th min and Roberto returned as right back. At this point, buying in Cancelo or Dest would be more preferable with a possible swap deal seeing Semedo out and the incoming fullback coming in for his position.
His rating would have been surely level to Semedo if only Setien had not brought in Puig. Arturo and Puig complement each other very well in regard to pressing and connecting well. That’s why Vidal’s performance got better in the second half. He got the much-needed boost and was involved in a goal which was wrongly called offside by VAR. But its high time that Vidal is benched with Barcelona facing relegation-threatened Espanyol their City rivals.
Much better improvement from the Maestro who quietly navigated Barcelona in every possible way. It is no secret that Busquets provides much-needed stability to the Barcelona structure. I was particularly impressed with how the Maestro was providing vertical passes and circulating the ball quickly to the adjacent players. His best moment was during Messi’s goal buildup (which was wrongly called off by VAR). He made an impression that he will pass it to Roberto but made a disguised pass to Puig.
In all honesty, Roberto surprised with his performance as left midfielder. His penetrative runs were something which Barcelona missed for a while and this run of his is the reason why Barcelona got the first goal. Roberto’s directness and active involvement kept the midfield clicking well with the forwards. Now Setien might be actually confused to start him as a midfielder or Right back.
The Uruguayan was sharp and focused tonight. Instead of making heavy touches on the ball, he was dropping off in the midfield at the correct time and connected well with Messi and Griezmann. His curler tonight reminded me of him scoring in the same way when Barcelona broke the Anoeta curse with a comprehensive 4-2 victory against Real Sociedad. Such performances are rare from him these days but when he does it, he definitely amuses.
By far the best performance by the Frenchman in Barcelona colours. He was ‘The Griezmann’ which the fans were eager to see after back to back underwhelming performances. On a personal level, he might be relieved that Messi-Suarez are giving him passes which he craved for. This gives an assurity that he is definitely starting against Espanyol and like today he might score. His audacious chip was simply a replica of Messi’s chip against Betis. Maybe both Messi and Griezmann will be having a laugh about it in the dressing room.
Javier Tebas should actually rename Man of the match award to Messi of the match. Again Messi dropped a masterclass and this time he got a couple of assists making him just one assist away to equal Barcelona legend Xavi’s record of 20 assists in a single season. The final third buildup was executed perfectly by Messi with his ingenious dribbling, fooling Villarreal players and providing key passes to his teammates. Just when Messi finally got a goal from open play, VAR had some other plans. How hard anyone tries but La Pulga will still standout victorious.
When things were starting to go a bit slow, Puig added his dynamism and pace to Barcelona’s play. Not only he massacred Villarreal’s line of pressures, but he also helped Vidal up his performance. The biggest aspect of Puig’s play is his body adjusting to the surroundings. Despite facing heavy pressures from physically built midfielders, he will still find his way out of it. This lad is definitely starting or atleast getting vital minutes in crucial UCL matches.
The ratings never say the whole story. In the same manner, he isn’t rated low because of his performance but it was given considering the minutes he played and his role. Rakitic was brought in to stabilize the midfield so that Puig and Vidal can have the license to move forward when necessary to scramble the Villarreal defence.
The golden boy of La Masia yet again scored to seal the deal. This boy is just 17 but the way he is playing makes his future really bright and who knows he might bag Ballon Dor in future. Ansu tonight played as wide winger to stretch Villarreal defence line and used his dribbles to easily reach the 18-yard box. In terms of passing in final third, he isn’t that good but his ability to drive the ball into the net covers it up. He needs some time but he will only get better from here.
Apart from getting into 1 on 1 with Sergi Asenjo, Martin wasn’t much visible during the game making it hard to rate him.
Came in during the 80th min of the game.
Setien was perfect and absolutely correct with everything. The structure was fluid, players finally were giving vertical pass during 2nd phase, MSG finally linking together, making proper use of substitutions, using all 5 substitutions, subbing Pique and key players to avoid injury and so many things. It actually seems that he has got things under control and will make the team fight until the last day.
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