Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Lionel Messi’s Return Inspires Barça Win

?Barcelona returned to winning ways in La Liga with a 2-1 win over Villarreal at Camp Nou, just days after a humbling defeat at Granada.

Barely five minutes were on the clock when a returning Lionel Messi, who made his 400th start in La Liga, stepped up to take Barcelona’s first corner of the evening, with the Argentine floating a perfect cross to the near post where Antoine Griezmann nodded the ball past Sergio Asenjo via the underside of the bar.

Arthur Melo then doubled their lead soon after with a stunning long-range effort which left Asenjo completely wrong-footed, but Santi Cazorla matched the Brazilian’s strike with a shot from distance of his own that halved the deficit just before half-time.


Barcelona survived a handful of dangerous moments during what ultimately proved to be an uneventful second-half, also seeing a hopeful penalty shout from Ansu Fati waved away as the hosts held on for all three points.

Here’s 90min’s report of the game.


Key Talking Point

For all of Barcelona’s ability on the ball, it was their work off it that gave Ernesto Valverde’s side a much-needed boost against Villarreal to get an upper hand in the match.

Antoine Griezmann got the better of left-back Xavi Quintillà time after time in the first half, while full-backs Nélson Semedo and Junior Firpo enjoyed too much space when they roamed forward as Villarreal became very narrow out of possession.

Scoring goals from set-pieces and long-range hardly screams ‘trademark Barcelona’ either, but it was a performance from Ernesto Valverde’s that showed a significant improvement compared to their recent matches against Borussia Dortmund and Granada.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Semedo (7), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Firpo (7); Roberto (6), Busquets (7), Arthur (8); Messi (7), Suarez (6), Griezmann (8*).

Substitues: Dembele (6), De Jong (7), Fati (6).

Star Man

For everything that Tuesday’s opening goalscorer Griezmann offers in the attacking half of the pitch, it’s his work at the other end that stood head and shoulders above everything else at Camp Nou.



The France international proved exactly what working under Diego Simeone for a number of years can do to an attacking player, often finding himself in the right position to help break up attacks from Villarreal.

That didn’t take away from Griezmann’s threat going forward, however, as the 28-year-old should have added to his early goal and could have even picked up a handful of assists on Tuesday evening.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Asenjo (5); Pena (5), Albiol (6), Torres (5), Quintilla (3); Anguissa (5), Iborra (4), Chukwueze (7), Cazorla (8*), Ontiveros (5); Moreno (6).

Substitutes: Ekambi (6), Gomez (5), Bacca (5).

Looking Ahead

Barcelona will be hoping that their away form can turn around when they travel to Getafe on Saturday, although one eye will be on their Champions League group stage match against Antonio Conte’s Inter next Wednesday.


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