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Three talking points from Villarreal 3-4 Barcelona



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Last night saw one of La Liga’s classic fixtures played out at Estadio de La Ceramica. The stadium has seen many giants slayed over the years, and Barcelona were close to finding themselves in a similar situation against Villarreal.

From a position of strength when 2-0 up, the Blaugranas collapsed and conceded three goals in 25 minutes to throw away their advantage. Late goals from Ferran Torres and Robert Lewandowski helped them save their blushes.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Villarreal 3-4 Barcelona.

A defensive nightmare

Barcelona’s grind against Villarreal was significant in many ways. Through optimistic eyes, the Blaugranas dug deep into their resources and churned out a win against a difficult opposition.

Yet, it is hard to deny that the game should not have reached a state of such desperation in the first place.

The Catalans took the early lead against the Yellow Submarines despite being on the back foot in the opening period. Two quick goals from Gavi and Frenkie de Jong provided them with a strong foundation to build the victory.

What ensued was a series of defensive lapses and mishaps that undid the visitors’ hard work. 

For starters, full-backs on the night were absolutely dismal. While Sergi Roberto hopelessly chased behind the speedy Alfonso Pedraza on the right flank, Marcos Alonso did not fare much better on the left.

The game saw another key moment at half-time when Xavi Hernandez took Andreas Christensen off the field for Eric Garcia. 

He revealed in his press conference that the centre-back felt some discomfort, prompting an immediate substitution. With Ronald Araujo and Inigo Martinez already on the sidelines, matters don’t look great for the Catalan defence.

Last season, Xavi’s men boasted of La Liga’s best defensive record in history. They conceded minimal goals throughout the season and were rock solid at the back. In fact, that was one of the primary factors that enabled them to lift the league trophy.

With injuries, discomfort, and precautions creeping into Xavi’s defence so early in the season, it does not bode well. Conceding three goals against Villarreal only exemplifies the extent of the problem.

What to say of Lamine Yamal

Flying high. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

For years, Barcelona tried to replace the stars of their golden generation with big-name signings. Ironically, their solution eventually lay in La Masia.

The academy has gifted the team with some gems in recent years, including Gavi, Ansu Fati, and Alejandro Balde. Yet, none was as young as Lamine Yamal.

The 16-year-old starlet carved a name for himself in pre-season, and his involvement in the first team dynamics was never in question. Yet, one did not expect him to be thrown into the deep end so early in the season.

Yamal started Barcelona’s game against Cadiz last weekend in Raphinha’s absence and delivered a performance to remember. In his second start last night, he once again proved why he is the team’s most valuable resource.

Yamal was central in Gavi’s opening goal on the night. The move began with his routine trickery at the edge of the box, followed by a sumptuous cross across the face of the goal to find the midfielder.

Further, he also created the team’s fourth goal on the night through a splendid solo effort. His shot unfortunately hit the post, but Robert Lewandowski was there to put it away.

Apart from his two contributions in goal buildups, the teenager completed 100% of his dribbles, hit the woodwork twice, and completed 92% of his passes against Villarreal. 

Ferran Torres deserves a start, but where?

Ferran Torres has not enjoyed the greatest of times in recent years. Last season was difficult for the Spanish winger, and he fell down Xavi’s pecking order through his underwhelming performances.

The manner in which the 23-year-old has turned around his fortune ever since is beyond impressive.

After working hard on his fitness and form in the pre-season break, he began showing a whole new level in terms of quality. He scored his first goal of the season in Barcelona’s first game against Arsenal before finding the back of the net again in the pre-season Clasico.

His best performance of pre-season arguably came in the Joan Gamper trophy where his goal and assist saved Barcelona from a losing position and engineered a comeback.

Torres has carried the same form into the new season and even scored last week against Cadiz with a well-worked solo run. Last night, he was once again on point and scored Barcelona’s equaliser in the second half.

He deserves to be rewarded with a start for his persistent efforts to make a difference on the field. Yet, it is difficult to see who he can replace in the lineup, for both Robert Lewandowski and Lamine Yamal are seemingly irreplaceable for Xavi.

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