Villarreal – Barcelona: Barça Finally Hit Their Stride (1-4)
As the scoreline shows, Quique Setién’s men made relatively light work of Javi Calleja’s Villarreal. Impressive fluidity and synchronization between teammates was at the core of Barcelona’s successes going forward, despite some nervy moments still creeping in down their own end.
Tactical analysis and match report by Peter Munnelly.
Having won five of their previous six matches, Villarreal were looking to leapfrog Sevilla – the only side they slipped up to in that run – into fourth in their push for the final Champions League qualification spot.
As fixtures continue to come thick and fast, Calleja named only half of the starting eleven that beat Real Betis 2-0 in midweek for this encounter. Maintaining the same 4-4-2 formation, Mário Gaspar was reintroduced to the defense; Santi Cazorla, Samuel Chukwueze and Vicente Iborra all returned to the starting midfield; Paco Alcácer, meanwhile, stepped in for Carlos Bacca to partner the on-form Gerard Moreno up front.
Three draws in their last four matches have seen Barça’s title lead slip through their fingers. After Real Madrid’s earlier win against Athletic Club, Setién’s side sat seven points adrift of their rivals.
There were just two changes made to the side that drew 2-2 with Atlético Madrid: Sergi Roberto started ahead of Riqui Puig in midfield, and Antoine Griezmann returned to the forward line, resulting in Arturo Vidal taking Ivan Rakitić’s place in the midfield.
Barça work their magic from the start
After . . .