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Barcelona headed to the Estadio de la Ceramica looking to improve on their great record against Villarreal in recent years, having won their last four games away to the Yellow Submarine.
In an absolutely frantic game, the Catalans started well against Villarreal, racing into a 2-0 lead, before throwing away the advantage with some lax defending and a completely sloppy and error-strewn spell.
After going 3-2 down, however, Barcelona flicked the switch on once more and scored two more quickfire goals to win 4-3.
Also missing Pedri and Ronald Araujo through injury, Barcelona struggled throughout defensively, got picked apart too easily, and could not hold on to possession at El Madrigal.
The Yellow Submarine showed great character after conceding twice in quick succession and rallied back adeptly, but Barcelona somehow managed to stave them off and grab all three points.
As a topsy-turvy start to the 23/24 campaign for the Blaugrana continues, here are the performances from a very eventful game, under the microscope.
In his first game after penning a new five-year deal with Barcelona, ter Stegen made a few huge saves, but was let down by his defence on both Villarreal goals.
Deputised for the injured Araujo, Roberto had a torrid night, and was completely ineffective in neutralising any Villarreal threat down his flank and was terrorised by Alfonso Pedraza.
Made some driving runs forward and distributed well, but was drawn out of position constantly to cover for Roberto’s lack of discipline.
Much like Kounde, tried to hold his ground well individually but was played around due to a lack of help from Alonso.
Made one recovery and one interception before making way for Eric Garcia at halftime, but the circumstances invalidated much of the details.
Alonso got the nod to start ahead of Balde for his first game of the new season, but it turned out to be a horror show at left-back.
Completely absent for Alexander Sorloth’s equaliser to make it 2-2, he was lucky that an early Sorloth goal was ruled out after he played Villarreal onside, as he strayed out of position all game.
One of the two best players on the pitch for the Catalans tonight, the Dutchman made his trademark striding runs forward, scored Barcelona’s second, created three chances, and completed 100% of his dribbles.
Romeu continued his solid run of form with another competent display – spraying passes, switching the play, and making some great recoveries in the first half while liberating Frenkie de Jong to work his magic before fading away.
An uncharacteristically poor display from the German, whose was a bit erratic in possession and could not impose himself and set the tempo for the game.
Seemed more like himself than he has been in recent weeks, playing with a good tempo and scoring the opener with a great header back across goal.
His impact did slightly taper off before he suddenly found his tempo again about 20 minutes into the second half.
What looked to be another very frustrating game for him turned around in the second half, the Pole finally got off the mark this season and prodded home to hand Barcelona the 4-3 lead.
The goal will hopefully be a confidence booster for Lewandowski, as outside of it, he did not have the best of outings as he also missed an easy one-on-one in the dying moments.
Handed another start after his confident showing against Cadiz, Yamal showed just why has been lauded, with another sensational outing.
Assisting Gavi’s opener with a lovely cross, the teenager continued to confidently create danger, tracked back to help out defensively, and came ever so close to his first goal with a lovely sequence following which he hit the bar.
He then went on another purposeful run and hit the post, following which the rebound landed to Lewandowski to tap home; simply superb.
Replaced Christensen at half-time, had a few nervy moments, but also made three recoveries and did not do too much wrong.
‘The shark’ continued his rich vein of form, adding freshness to the attack and scoring his second goal in two games to make the score 3-3 and shift the momentum in the Blaugranas’ favour.
The Spaniard looks like a player rejuvenated, and it may not be long before he earns a spot in the starting line-up.
Got into some good positions but seemed to be lacking in confidence and made a few poor decisions.
Came on for the last ten minutes for his official debut, but did not have long enough to have an impact except one solid attempt on goal, which was an encouraging sign of confidence.
Barcelona make final decision on the incorporation of 18-year-old Brazilian jewel
Barcelona youngster closer to staying than leaving amid interest from La Liga rivals
Barcelona, Tottenham in contact over loan deal for €35 million-rated prodigy – Romano
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