Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal: Match review and analysis ?
Messi and Griezmann gave a glimpse of what they can achieve, but their partnership didn’t last long because of another injury to Messi.
Lionel Messi was back for his first start after a calf injury, having appeared as a substitute in the 0-0 draw at Borussia Dortmund last weekend and again in the 2-0 loss away to Granada on Sunday.
A corner from the Argentine was glanced home by Griezmann after just six minutes, the French forward with the faintest of touches to beat Sergio Asenjo at his near post.
Ernesto Valverde’s side continued to dominate and Arthur made it 2-0 after a quarter of an hour as he hit a fierce drive past Asenjo from outside the area. The ball looked to move in the air and gave the Villarreal goalkeeper no chance.
Villarreal had more possession later in the half and Santi Cazorla pulled a goal back after 44 minutes when he hit a thunderous effort with his left foot which also moved in the air and deceived Stegen on its way to the back of the net.
Stegen could have react better, but he denied Cazorla from close range early in the second half.
Messi, who had earlier received treatment on his left thigh, did not reappear after the break.
He was replaced by Ousmane Dembele and the French forward quickly set up chances for Griezmann and Luis Suarez, but both were wasted.
The second half was more even as Villarreal also threatened on the break, but Barca looked more likely to score again in the latter stages as Ansu Fati replaced Suarez and the youngster fired just wide from the edge of the box.
The teenager saw a penalty appeal turned down and looked a constant threat down the left as Barca held out for a much-needed win, which sees them climb provisionally to fourth, with Villarreal two points further back in eighth.
Star Man of the match:
For everything that Griezmann offers in the attacking half of the pitch, it's his work at the other end that stood head and shoulders above everything else at Camp Nou. Griezmann's work rate was amazing, helping in defense more than Lenglet!
Barcelona will be hoping that their away form can turn around when they travel to Getafe on Saturday, although one eye will be on their Champions League group stage match against Antonio Conte's Inter next Wednesday.