Barcelona played hosts to Villarreal tonight as they were looking to put pressure on Real Madrid following the El Clasico defeat last weekend.
Xavi made several changes to the team, essentially axing every player that did not play well – including Eric Garcia, who was benched for Marcos Alonso. Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati formed the wings, while Jordi Alba returned to his natural left-back role.
After 30 minutes of sharp football, Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring brilliantly with a well-taken first touch that sold the Yellow Submarine defence. He added another in four minutes with a sensational curler from outside the box.
No less than three minutes after that, Ansu Fati pretty much called curtains on the game with a goal, courtesy of a superb move from Ferran Torres.
Eventually, the score remained the same at the end of 90, as it was at the end of 45.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6
Largely a spectator through the game, ter Stegen was composed when called into action in the second 45.
Sergi Roberto: 7
Struggled a bit against Danjuma and Baena, but was solid in possession. The Spaniard especially does well when inverting, and keeps circulating passes. The addition of a focal 9 also helps him on the wing.
Jules Kounde: 7.5
Kounde was defending for himself and Alonso tonight, covering the Spaniard’s tracks during counter-attacks. Nearly created a goal, too.
Marcos Alonso: 6.5
Had some problems when facing attackers 1v1, but read the game well on other occasions, intercepting the ball time and again, both inside and outside the box. Almost messed up the clean sheet with a moment of poor defending in the last minute, though.
Jordi Alba: 7.5
Got a well-deserved assist in the first half, but Alba’s complacent defending and inability to step up proactively is a definitive problem.
Relentless out of possession, and clever on it, Gavi showed today why he got that Kopa Trophy. Not to mention, an assist for Lewandowski, too.
Frenkie de Jong: 9
Probably the best player during his time on the pitch – de Jong started in the defensive midfield role and bossed it to a fault. There was a counter or two that fell through behind him, but the Dutchman covered his tracks by chasing down attackers and winning the ball back.
De Jong was an absolute delight in possession, too, creating space through his body feints and through balls.
The assist for the first goal might have gone to Alba, but that goal was all Pedri. A spectacular through ball opened up the Villarreal defence before Lewandowski slotted the cutback home.
Ferran Torres: 8
An absolute revelation tonight, Torres looked sharper compared to his performances throughout this season. Gave nightmares to Mojica and Pedraza with his fakes and tricks, eventually setting up Fati’s goal.
Robert Lewandowski: 8.5
Two sensational finishes again tonight from Lewandowski, who goes up to 11 for the season in the league, averaging more than a goal per game.
Ansu Fati: 7.5
Fati is slowly, but surely getting back to his best, as was visible tonight, too. Came close to scoring the opener, and then creating one for Lewandowski. Eventually got the goal he was looking for, with Torres returning the favour from the Clasico.
Hector Bellerin: 5
Came on with 20 minutes to spare, and did not do much wrong (or right) in that time.
Sergio Busquets: 5.5
Tidy in possession, untested out of possession, Busquets did just enough in the little time he got.
Should have scored minutes after coming on, but failed to make proper contact on Dembele’s cutback. Impressive as ever defensively, though.
Ousmane Dembele: 6.5
Created two solid chances – for Raphinha and Torres, but to no avail.
Gerard Pique: N/A
Did not make much of a difference with ten minutes to spare.