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Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal: 3 reasons why the Blaugrana won

Arthur scored a screamer to double Barcelona's lead
Arthur scored a screamer to double Barcelona's lead
Ferdie
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It's been an unfamiliar start to the La Liga campaign for Barcelona. But they've got, perhaps their most convincing win of the campaign so far in the 2-1 triumph over Villarreal.

By no means was it a comfortable victory, and Villarreal would've made them pay had they been able to create more clear-cut chances. But, Barcelona dominated the game in parts today. They showed control that they lacked in their previous games, and that's a step forward for Ernesto Valverde and his team.

Barcelona started the game well. They kept most of Villarreal's threat at bay and made plenty of inroads going forward. The breakthrough came in the 6th minute when Lionel Messi's inswinging corner found Antoine Griezmann and the French forward glanced the ball home to put the Blaugrana ahead.

Barely 10 minutes later, Arthur Melo would double the home side's advantage with a screamer from range. Although they didn't particularly create much for the rest of the half, they remained well in control.

Santi Cazorla's goal came at the end of the half in dramatic fashion as Barcelona failed to close him down and the maestro took advantage to unleash a dipping, swerving shot that moved away from a diving Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Despite Villarreal's consistent efforts they couldn't get back into the game, and towards the end of the game, Barcelona seized control once again, but they couldn't make their chances count.


#3 The forward trio

Messi got his first assist of the season as Griezmann headed his corner into the goal
Messi got his first assist of the season as Griezmann headed his corner into the goal

Barcelona have had some brilliant attacking combinations in the past, but you can't blame anyone for being excited about watching Luis Suarez, Messi and Griezmann in the same attack. This was the first game they started together as Messi made his way back from injury.

For the short time that they were on the pitch in the first half, they showed plenty of good link-up play that has the potential to blossom into something formidable.

The one criticism of this trio could be that they're very narrow and central. So, Barcelona have to find width elsewhere on the pitch, which segues well into my next point.

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#2 Barcelona's width & midfield movement

Roberto played a key role in Barcelona's play today
Roberto played a key role in Barcelona's play today

With Suarez, Messi and Griezmann largely occupying central roles as a narrow front three, the full-backs are expected to provide the width, which is more or less true on both flanks for Barcelona with a few caveats.

Junior Firpo was the more attacking full-back of the two. Nelson Semedo made plenty of runs forward but didn't do so as aggressively as Firpo. Although, it seemed a part of Valverde's plan.

Sergi Roberto playing in midfield would advance to the wide right position when Barcelona were in possession, leaving Sergio Busquets as the lone defensive midfielder as Arthur advanced centrally or chose to hang back depending on the situation.

Roberto's movement allowed the likes of Messi and Arthur plenty of space in central areas where they do their best work and it worked a treat for most of the first half.

#1 Valverde's timely changes

Ansu Fati's penalty appeal was denied in the final minutes of the game
Ansu Fati's penalty appeal was denied in the final minutes of the game

As the game wore on, Valverde was forced into taking Messi off for either a recurrence of his injury or as a precautionary measure as he required treatment halfway through the first half.

The second half started poorly by Barcelona's standards. Ousmane Dembele, who replaced Messi was showing some signs of threatening the opposition defence but Barcelona didn't seem to have control of the game. Gerard Moreno, Cazorla and Samuel Chukuwueze made plenty of inroads into the home side's defensive set-up.

Valverde's decision to bring on Frenkie De Jong and Ansu Fati for Roberto and Suarez handed the initiative back to Barcelona. They once again started to look solid and Fati was a menace in attack for the home team. They went close to increasing their lead a couple of times but couldn't make their chances count.

Edited by Shashwat Kumar
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