Barcelona were hosted at the Estadio de la Cerámica in what turned out to be a tough fixture. The first half saw three goals being scored, followed by a much-nervier second half. El Submarino Amarillo’s 10-man lineup after a red card to Trigueros managed to dominate the centre of the park totally. However, the Blaugranas scraped a victory through the barrel, making a hard night’s work of the match. In this article, we will rate each Barça player’s performance on a scale of 10.
Marc-André ter Stegen: 8
The German goalkeeper’s heroics kept the Catalans alive in the league title race: sounds familiar? It was a moment of pure magic when ter Stegen’s wonderful trailing leg made for an even more wonderful save. In the 62nd minute, Villarreal worked the ball into the edge of the box to Capoue, who blasts a low driven shot into the centre of the goal. A diving ter Stegen manages to save it with his trailing leg, in what was a highlight reel worthy moment for the German. Apart from the wonderful save, the 28-year-old was flawless in his distribution, as always key to Barça’s buildup play.
Óscar Mingueza: 8
It really is no exaggeration to claim that the Spanish defender is improving with every passing game. With the spirit of a warrior and the technical and tactical understanding of a long-experienced Barça player, the young starlet has become a crucial fixture in the Blaugranas’ backline. Adding to his jaw-dropping assist to Griezmann, the Spaniard kept it tidy in the backline, with two interceptions, tackles, and clearances each.
Gerard Piqué: 7
The Spanish veteran enjoyed a decent night, not committing any errors while keeping the buildup play clean from the back. Alongside his other defensive compatriots, the 34-year-old suffered in the second half, having to be called into action several times against a dangerous Yellow Submarine. Nonetheless, the club legend proved he was up for the task on the night, having a more or less flawless game.
Clément Lenglet: 7.5
The French defender has had a wonderful revival in the last fifteen games, putting in yet another solid performance at the back. It is the calmness and dexterity with which Lenglet performs his defensive and distributive tasks that impress us the most. With two clearances, three interceptions, and one tackle, the Frenchman was unshakeable on the night. His renewed confidence has allowed him to champion the cool and effective qualities that make him a wonderful player. We hope to see him continue performing just like this.
Sergiño Dest: 6.5
The young American was substituted off at half time, though up until then, he had enjoyed a fairly decent half. While not as positionally smart or technically proficient as his fellow fullback Sergi Roberto, Dest offers a great deal of width and offensive threat that is refreshing on the right flank. If the young starlet can continue to work on his end product, that right-back role is surely reserved for him for many years to come.
Frenkie de Jong: 8
If the Dutchman hadn’t missed two key chances in the game, we would have certainly tallied an additional point-and-a-half to what truly was another masterclass in midfield. De Jong is truly a joker card for the Bluagranas, appearing in what seems like every single zone on the field. He constantly makes himself available to create possessional superiorities while also expressing his immense ability to attack and add threat in the forward-most line for the Catalans. He truly is enjoying the best season of his life, playing at an elite level in whichever role is required of him from his coach.
Unfortunately, the Dutch midfielder missed two key chances in the match. The first one came from the end of a Jordi Alba cross, and de Jong had an empty net in front of him. However, Asenjo pulled off a moment of sheer heroism to stop the 23-year-old’s effort from entering the net. The second one came at the end of a Dembélé cross-field pass, with the Dutchman finding himself one-on-one with Asenjo. Unfortunately, de Jong’s chipped effort went leftward of the goal, and both himself and Koeman were furious at the missed opportunity.
Nevertheless, de Jong was astounding in midfield once again, dominating the centre of the park for the most part.
Sergio Busquets: 7
The Spanish midfielder enjoyed a relatively standard night, apart from suffering against a Parejo-lead Villarreal midfield, who really took control of things in the second half. Busquets, as usual, was key in keeping the play ticking, putting in another fairly solid performance in all spheres, continuing his impressive year.
With fairly little involvement in his 64 minutes on the pitch, Pedri suffered another off night as the 18-year-old seems to be coming down with a case of fatigue. He wasn’t his usual daring or confident self, losing the ball ten times in the process. His neat and precise passing wasn’t up to his usual standard, while he also was left less involved in the match with only 49 touches. Koeman replaced him with Ilaix Moriba midway through the game.
Jordi Alba: 6.5
Apart from a single expertly delivered cross to de Jong, the Spanish wingback was unable to entirely impact the game other than making himself available for possessional superiorities in the centre of the park. While it was not a noteworthy performance for Alba, he didn’t really put a foot wrong in the match, though he was called out for being the culprit in the Blaugranas’ single conceded goal.
Antoine Griezmann: 9
The Frenchman must be thankful to Messi for gifting him a penalty against Getafe, as that goal seems to have done wonders for his confidence. Griezmann registered two goals on the night; both of them were wonderful finishes.
His first goal of the night came after a wonderful long ball delivered into his path by Mingueza. The French striker took a nice touch on the ball before dinking it exquisitely into the side of the goal. It was truly a wonderful goal and a second chipped effort from him against Villarreal in less than a year.
The second goal resulted from an abysmal error from Villarreal, with a back pass finding itself directly in Griezmann’s boots. The Frenchman stayed composed to finish it into the bottom right corner, making it the crucial match-winning goal on the night.
With 18 goals and 11 assists, the World Cup winner has seriously had a very underrated second campaign wearing the Blaugrana badge. He well and truly has been crucial to the club’s attack this season.
Lionel Messi: 7
It was a strangely quiet night for the Argentinian, who failed to really test Asenjo on the night. Apart from not being much of an attacking threat, Messi’s playmaking wasn’t up to his usual standard either.
That being said, it was most likely as a result of Villarreal suffocating the centre of the park for Barça, making it very difficult for Messi to find his teammates in dangerous positions. Additionally, the Yellow Submarine’s players were coming down hard on the little magician, who was fouled six times throughout the course of the match.
Sergi Roberto: 6
Ilaix Moriba: 7
Ousmane Dembele: 5.5
Ronald Araujo: 5