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Three talking points from Villarreal 0-1 Barcelona



Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Xavi’s sensational record in away games continued when Barcelona took on Villarreal at Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday night. The Spanish tactician touched a special record on the night as Pedri Gonzalez and Robert Lewandowski combined superbly for the team’s winning goal.

As the schedule gets tighter, the Catalans show no sign of slowing down and refuse to put a wrong foot. As dynamic and creative as the attack was against Villarreal, the defence proved equally solid and there is an increasing feeling that every player has found his stride.

As the bandwagon moves to the UEFA Europa League later this week, there is no shortage of optimism for the Blaugrana faithful.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from the win in Villarreal.

1. Ronald Araujo – take a bow

The winning goal for Barcelona against Villarreal may be Pedri’s, and the assist may be Lewandowski’s. However, if one man has to be credited for the Catalans’ three points at Estadio de la Ceramica, it is Ronald Araujo.

The Uruguayan international took his game to another level against Quique Setien’s men with a display that commands greater attention. For ninety minutes against the Yellow Submarines, Araujo played a game that made him worthy of being called the best defender in the world.

On the night, he recorded three crunching tackles and won nine of his ten attempted duels, both of which were the best figures of any player on the field. Further, he recorded four recoveries, an interception, a clearance and a last-man tackle to deny the hosts.

In the final 20 minutes of the game, it appeared as if Araujo was single-handedly parrying away each of Villarreal’s attempts on goal, cutting off the ball at critical moments and winning back possession. His performance was statistically staggering enough, but a whole notch higher when one relives the nervy moments in which Araujo pulled off the saves.

2. A night of missed chances and many lessons

Lewandowski and Pedri combined for the goal vs Villarreal (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunday was one such rare day when the Blaugrana saw less than 50% of the ball. They recorded half the number of shots on goal as their hosts and had fewer attempts from inside the box. Yet, it was glaringly clear that Barcelona had the better and clearer chances on the night.

On a different night with Lewandowski in form, the result would have been settled far earlier. The Pole was in fine form playmaking against Villarreal but did not have the clinical finishing one would usually associate with him.

The missed opportunities can be taken with a pinch of salt as one of the team’s shortcomings. However, a more optimistic approach would lead one to understand that it is nothing more than a poor night at the office.

The ease with which the Catalan midfield created chances against Villarreal was outrageous, frequently passing through the lines and setting the forwards free in front of the goal. When one further considers that they were with a less productive Franck Kessie in place of Sergio Busquets, one begins to appreciate the monster Xavi has built.

3. The Guardiola effect

Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona is considered the golden generation of the club’s history. The group consisting of Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and Xavi himself amongst others took the Blaugrana colours to new heights, breaking record after record in the process.

One of the most special records the manager held at Barcelona was that of the longest winning streak. Guardiola’s men had set the bar high with 11 wins in succession, and the record was untouched ever since. Until now.

With the three points against Villarreal on Sunday, Xavi’s Barcelona equalled the record and sit on a 100% win record in their last 11 games.

47 games into his stint at Barcelona, Guardiola guided his side to 110 points. Xavi has surpassed that number too with the result at the Ceramica and boasts 112 points in as many games.

Barcelona head into the critical clash against Manchester United with the chance to make history in their 12th consecutive win. The confidence could not be higher heading into the Europa League, for at the moment, the Azulgranas seem to be a side capable of winning even on their worst days.

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