Barcelona returned to winning ways and picked up three crucial points in the La Liga title race thanks to a dominant 3-0 win over Villarreal at Camp Nou on Thursday night. The Blaugrana were in full control from start to finish, scored three very good goals in the first half and stayed solid at the back to get an important victory at home.
Villarreal were missing three of their best players through injury, and without a lot of depth they had no choice but to play very defensively and try to survive against a Barça team hungry for goals and in desperate need of a response.
Unai Emery’s side did a solid job staying in their shape in the first 15 minutes, but their defense slowly started to open up thanks to a strong attacking performance from Barça. The Blaugrana moved bodies a lot more in the final third and passed the ball quickly and with more variety, and they tried to be as quick and intentional as possible and not have sterile possessions.
It took over 20 minutes to become truly dangerous, but the chances slowly started to come until the dam broke at the half-hour mark: within eight minutes, Robert Lewandowski scored two fantastic goals and Ansu Fati made it 3-0 with a scruffy one, and the Blaugrana pretty much killed off the game.
At halftime, a dominant Barça had a deserved three-goal lead but still needed to finish the job in the second half against a Yellow Submarine that had nothing to lose.
Barça have been known to start the second half slowly this season and allow their opponents to get back in the game, but the Blaugrana did a much better job of managing their lead and not allowing Villarreal to have any joy in attack.
The home team dropped back and defended deep at times when needed, but they were mostly in control of the ball and didn’t let the Yellow Submarine counter attack with pace. Barça continued to attack and had a couple of very good chances, with substitute Raphinha missing a tap-in in what was the best of the Catalans’ opportunities.
But in reality the second half was a cruise for Barça who mostly ran out the clock and cruised to the finish, and the final whistle came to give the home team a very important victory that goes beyond just three points.
The performance was encouraging, and Frenkie de Jong made a huge statement with a sensational performance that was recognized by the Camp Nou crowd with a huge roar when the Dutchman was substituted.
The fans made their feelings clear and Xavi Hernández needs to listen to them, make sound decisions and keep things simple. If the coach helps and players continue to perform, this team can be really good this season.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto (Bellerín 70’), Kounde (Piqué 78’), Alonso, Alba; Gavi, De Jong (Busquets 70’), Pedri; Ferran, Lewandowski (Dembélé 75’), Fati (Raphinha 75’)
Goals: Lewandowski (31’, 35’), Fati (38’)
Villarreal: Rulli; Femenía, Albiol (Mandi 80’), Torres, Pedraza (Mojica 25’); Pino, Morlanes (Trigueros 57’), Parejo, Baena; Jackson (Moreno 57’), Danjuma (Morales 46’)