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Three things we learned from Barcelona’s draw at Villarreal

A completely crazy game ended 4-4

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

Malcom should start against Atletico Madrid

Malcom was rewarded for an impressive cameo against Espanyol with just his second La Liga start of the season against Villarreal.

The Brazilian quickly went about making an impression for Barca. After just 12 minutes he raced down the right and then produced an incisive pass for Philippe Coutinho to net the opener.

Four minutes later Malcom was heading Barcelona into a 2-0 lead with his first goal in the Spanish top flight.

Malcom also set up chances for Luis Suarez and Samuel Umtiti and went close to adding another with a shot that flew into the side-netting.

The Brazilian has taken full advantage of the minutes he’s been given and seems absolutely determined to prove he can make the grade at the Camp Nou.

It remains to be seen if Ousmane Dembele will be fit to face Atletico Madrid on Saturday, but if the Frenchman is not ready then Malcom should take his place.

Barcelona defence a shambles without Pique

Ernesto Valverde rested Gerard Pique for the first time in La Liga this season, and the centre-back was badly missed as Barcelona produced a shambolic defensive display.

Goals from Coutinho and Malcom had the game seemingly wrapped up after just 16 minutes, but Villarreal then scored four times and could have had a few more.

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

Barca needed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to pull off three important saves as Villarreal created plenty of chances.

Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal back into it, Karl Ekambi levelled for the hosts, Vicente Iborra put them ahead and Carlos Bacca looked to have finished Barca off.

While Messi and Suarez ultimately scored to rescue a point for Barcelona, the game highlighted some real weaknesses at the back.

Samuel Umtiti was back in the team but looked very much like a player who has spent most of the season out injured, while Clement Lenglet had one of his toughest nights in a Barcelona shirt.

Pique will return against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, and Barcelona seriously need him back in the team for what will be a crucial match.

Valverde still can’t get rotation right

Ernesto Valverde has been criticised throughout his time at Barcelona for a lack of rotation, but he opted to leave some key players out against Villarreal.

Gerard Pique was finally given a breather in La Liga, while Ivan Rakitic and Lionel Messi started on the bench.

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

It was an understandable decision from Valverde too given Villarreal’s lowly league position and with important games against Atletico Madrid and Manchester United to come.

In came Samuel Umtiti, Arturo Vidal and Malcom and initially it all seemed to be going to plan as Barcelona moved 2-0 up.

However, Villarreal came back strongly and for all the talk of Messidependency after the match, the game also highlighted just how important Pique and Rakitic are to the team.

Valverde eventually had to rely on Messi to help salvage a draw, but he needs to be smarter with his rotation as we approach the business end of the season.

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