Sunday, June 4

Barça starts its first away victory in Villarreal

Memphis did not miss a wonderful gift. The forward is not there, nor is Barça to despise the generosity of others that helps him recover from the time of hardship. He was not going to have another Memphis, three minutes from the end, to redeem himself from the chances he had missed.

He could not advance Barça on the scoreboard at the beginning, but he did so at the end. He left Villarreal knocked out when it was Barça that capsized to keep the tie. So dizzy was the Castellón team that even Coutinho was able to provoke a penalty. And to transform it, which in your particular case is not easy.

The most normal thing in the world

Barça left Villareal with only a resounding victory on the scoreboard. A positive result that the group needed to believe in Xavi’s ideas, although the outcome was the most normal in the world: Barça have not lost at Villarreal in the last 13 visits. Since the 2008-09 League. It was the first win as an outsider of the current championship.

He went out looking for her boldly from the beginning, but did not find her until the end. Xavi’s slogans were seen soon, although they were also soon diluted. The stampede at the beginning ended around the 20th minute, and not because the Catalans were exhausted, victims of that supposedly poor physical preparation. Nor because they deflated with the four clear missed occasions, including two that kissed the post before going out. It had more to do with the coaches’ maneuvers.

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Barça changed the initial idea, already retouched in the dressing room, of returning to 4-3-3 even if there were three centrals: Eric opted for the right back, but at a certain point he began to chase in individual defense to Moi Gómez.

Abde, a torment

As soon as the Villarreal bench detected that movement, they ordered their footballer to move away from his theoretical left-wing area to drag Eric. An enormous empty space remained, into which Danjuma fell (taking Araujo behind him) or took advantage of Pedraza to attack in depth, which entailed, at the same time, deactivate Abde. The insolent Moroccan winger tormented his pair until he found himself in the position that it was he who was defending the yellow side and not the other way around.

A red card not shown (to Parejo) and a penalty not called (by hands to Piqué) soon excited the game. They conditioned, especially the referee, who dragged those errors into his conscience to carry out his work. Fortunately, they did not influence the spirits of the players, who had enough with what they were dealing with on the pitch, all involved in a vertiginous game. Yeremi and Alba played to provoke themselves to see who was expelled first -the two were substituted- while in the other band Abde and Pedraza challenged each other to assign the role of defending to the other. They were also replaced. Exhausted.

Four centrals

The game was played a lot on the wings, although it ended up being decided, of course, in the areas. Frenkie de Jong fixed the umpteenth mistake of Memphis with a second-line arrival of the kind requested by his coach, although it was a static attack with a cross from Abde and a countercentror Alba. Barça had, in another of the coach’s demands, two auctioneers in the area. at least, to catch a fumble.

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What he did not have is defensive forcefulness when he played with four centrals! An innovation to remember. With all four he conceded the goal that was born in a throw-in. Eric got it wrong, Busquets was soft, Piqué was slow and Mingueza was displaced. In each season a Villarreal player arrived before. And one from Villarreal kept arriving until Estupiñán matched the awkwardness of others and left a ball dead that Memphis chased as if his life depended on it.


Villarreal: Rulli (5); Foyth (6), Albiol (5), Pau (6), Pedraza (7); Trigueros (6), Capoué (7), Parejo (4), Moi Gómez (6); Yéremi (5), Danjuma (6).

Technician: Unai Emery (6).

Changes: Estupiñán (4) for Pedraza (d. 65); Chukwueze (7) by Yeremi (m. 65); Raba (sc) by Trigueros (m. 85).

Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6); Eric (4), Araujo (7), Piqué (6), Alba (4); F. de Jong (6), Busquets (6), Nico (6); Abde (8), Memphis (7), Gavi (6).

Technician: Xavi Hernández (6).

Changes: Dembélé (4) for Abde (d. 66); Mingueza (4) de Alba (c. 71); Coutinho (sc) by Nico (m. 81).

GOALS: 0-1 (m. 47), F. de Jong takes advantage of a rejection by Rulli; 1-1 (m. 76), Chukwueze anticipates Mingueza; 1-2 (m. 87), Memphis sneaks the ball between Estupiñán’s legs. 1-3 (m. 94), Coutinho converts a penalty.

REFEREE: Soto Grado (3), from Rioja.

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Cards: Jeremi (m. 25), Alba (m. 25), Piqué (m. 43), Raba (m. 90).

STADIUM: The ceramic.

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