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Barcelona’s defence almost sunk by the Yellow Submarine

High line was a poor choice

Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Have you caught your breath yet?!

For the neutral, there’s no doubt that the fare served up at the Estadio de le Ceramica made it one of La Liga’s games of the season.

For Barca fans, however, it was verging on disaster.

Selection wise it’s unfair to point the finger at Ernesto Valverde after the event. After all, how any times this season have we criticised him for not rotating.

The issue on the night actually revolved around playing a high defensive line against a team that, although gasping for air down near the foot of the table, have always been great on the break.

The Blaugrana simply played into their hands in that respect.

Not only that, but everyone (apart from Ernesto Valverde) could see it from about minute 10 onwards and it seemed only a matter of time before the Yellow Submarine were back in the game, despite then going two down.

Clement Lenglet didn’t have his best night and alongside a frankly disastrous Samuel Umtiti, it really showed how much the Catalans missed the calming presence of Gerard Pique.

In hindsight, it wouldn’t have been the worst decision in the world for Valverde to bring Pique on once Lenglet injured his shoulder.

It’s hard to know at this stage whether it was that which affected the rest of his night, but the Frenchman wasn’t at the races regardless.

There were certain points in the game where it was blindingly obvious Barca were being beaten for pace at will too, and the balls in behind the full-backs were causing all sorts of problems. And yet Valverde persisted.

The history books will show an eight-goal thriller of course, but in truth the visitors got out of jail. Staff from both Atletico Madrid and Manchester United were in the stands at the Estadio de la Ceramica, and they’ll be licking their lips at the prospect of playing the Blaugrana over the course of the next week.

The pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in particular will cause concern, but at least Valverde and Co. have been fired a timely warning.

From a rotational point of view for the rest of the campaign, we should still give the coach the benefit of the doubt, but he must get his tweaking on point in every subsequent XI.

It’s also incumbent upon the players that come in to serve the club well, and to that end, let’s finish by tipping a collective hat to Malcom again.

His contribution won’t go unnoticed but thanks to the efforts of Messi and Suarez won’t get the headlines it deserved.

We go again...

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