In a topsy turvy night of football in La Liga, Barcelona beat Villarreal 1-3 to climb up the table.
The win was their first away victory of the season and records the first time they have won consecutive matches all campaign.
Here’s how the players rated at El Madrigal:
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Geronimo Rulli – 5 – Looked solid at times but could do little about any of the Barcelona goals.
Juan Foyth – 4 – Stupid tackle to concede the penalty and didn’t even try to argue about it. Didn’t close
Raul Albiol – 6 – Some big blocks and clearances but got left for dead by Memphis on the go-ahead goal.
Pau Torres – 6 – Generally handled Memphis really well (except for the sitter and the goal, of course).
Alfonso Pedraza – 6 – Struggled with defending Abde, but rocketed into the massive amounts of space on the Barcelona right over and over. However he couldn’t really use the ball with any great intelligence.
Manu Trigueros – 7 – Missed a sitter from a corner after Ter Stegen slipped, but was a constant thorn in the side of Barcelona with his movement and work-rate. Really got stuck in and Villarreal missed him when he got subbed off.
Etienne Capoue – 6 – Did well sweeping the passing lanes but absolutely could not handle or get a grip on Frenkie de Jong.
Dani Parejo – 6 – Really awful in open play as the game passed him by (and he was fortunate to avoid a red for a shocking early foul on Sergio Busquets). A demon from set-pieces, however.
Moi Gomez – 7 – Managed to somehow make such an impression that Xavi deemed him worthy of being man-marked. After that point he kept moving infield, dragging Eric Garcia with him and leaving acres of space on the right for Villarreal to attack.
Yeremi Pino – 6 – Really sharp with his movement in behind and dribbling but got involved in some feisty tackles and was lucky to stay on the pitch. Subbed off to protect him.
Arnaut Danjuma – 6 – Great runs in behind over and over again, especially once Barcelona made their strange switch. However whenever he got it he shot straight at Ter Stegen. Did set-up Chukwueze excellently, however.
Pervis Estupinan (for Pedraza 65′) – 4 – Awful headed clearance led to Memphis getting to run at goal and score the game-winner for Barcelona. Also he got nutmegged on the line. Oh dear.
Samu Chukwueze (for Yeremi 65′) – 7 – Terrified Barcelona. Scored a dramatic equaliser with unerring precision.
Dani Raba (for Trigueros 84′) – 5 – Added little bar a foul on Coutinho.
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Marc-André Ter Stegen – 7 – A couple of ropey moments but also made soime big saves. Moreover his distribution was on-point, including his booming long pass to create the pressure that led to the crucial second goal.
Eric Garcia – 6 – Struggled a bit with his passing at right-back. Then Xavi switched systems and had him follow Moi Gomez around as a man-marker. He managed to nullify Moi Gomez but was dragged all over the place as a result, exposing massive amounts of space on the right-flank which Villarreal used to hurt Barcelona. It wasn’t really a poor reflection on him, necessarily, but it didn’t look good.
Ronald Araujo – 8 – Exceptional. 4 tackles made, 2 interceptions and 5 clearances. Barcelona would have got battered if not for him.
Gerard Piqué – 5 – Massive block from Danjuma in the first-half (the ball struck his hand but VAR ruled it was not in an unnatural position) and just atrocious defending on the Villarreal equaliser. Left his position but then didn’t win the ball, creating the gap that Chukwueze surged into.
Jordi Alba – 7 – Very solid in defence, protecting his flank well. Created Barcelona’s opener with a great cross. Subbed off hurt.
Sergio Busquets – 7 – Calm and composed.
Frenkie de Jong – 8 – An excellent performance. Played so many key passes forward. Put a chance on a plate for Memphis and also opened the scoring early in the second-half by following in at the back-post for a tap-in. Villarreal couldn’t get a hold of him because his movement was so intelligent.
Nico Gonzalez – 6 – Furious worker. Lacked a touch of finesse that was required and the game mostly passed him by.
Abde – 6 – A dynamo 1-v-1 and a real threat to start but Xavi’s tactical switch completely neutered his display.
Gavi – 7 – Moved so intelligently. Linked play. Hit the post. Never stopped working and was so composed. Barcelona desperately need to be able to play him in midfield again.
Memphis Depay – 7 – Missed two big chances, including one sitter put on a plate for him by Frenkie. Partially redeemed himself by unintentionally assisting Frenkie’s goal by disrupting Rulli and then fully redeemed himself by scoring the match-winning goal, collecting a poor clearance following Ter Stegen’s booming high ball and then skipped away from the defenders and moving around Rulli and nutmegging Estupinan on the line for the match-turning goal.
Ousmane Dembélé (for Abde 66′) – 5 – Spent so much of his time on the field playing right-back thanks to Barcelona’s bizarre man-marking system. Xavi’s explanation was “we couldn’t release the high pressure of Villarreal, they did really well.”
Oscar Mingueza (for Alba 71′) – 4 – Just awful. Although in his defence he was playing out of position at left-back.
Coutinho (for Nico 81′) – 7 – Gave the ball away pathetically with his first-touch. Almost played Dembélé in for a goal with his 6th. Won a penalty with his 13th and scored it with his 14th. Tried an overhead kick with his 16th. A night of improvements and his best game in a Barcelona shirt since 2018.