Barcelona 5 – Villarreal 0

Well Pep decided to play neither Dos Santos, Fontás, Montoya, nor Bartra and went for an adapted 3 – 4 – 3 (3 -1 – 3 -3 if you like) of Váldes ; Mascherano, Busquets, Abidal; Keita; Iniesta, Fàbregas, Thiago ; Pedro, Messi, Alexis .  It is a system we have used in the past, but never with 2 of the 3 defenders being midfielders.  Special day also for my main man Victor Váldes as he plays his 410th official club game, matching the record held by legendary keeper and current sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.

 I’m going to sum up the 1st half rather briefly because for the most part is was quite a slow affair and frankly Villarreal had very little involvement in it.  They seemed pretty content to keep it defensive with 10 men behind the ball and let us try attack.  Due to the lack of width Alves in particular provides, we kept it quite narrow and they managed to block off a lot of passes.  But our first chance came as early as the 6th minute when Alexis’ shot was deflected safely into Diego López’s arms.  Pedro then had a clear sight on goal with a header a minute later but fluffed it.  He then reacted well to punch the ball clear after a header assist nearly found Messi running in.  That was in the 13th minute and until that Villarreal barely had a touch.

In the 17th minute Messi shot into the near post after Pedro played him nicely in but López was equal to the shot.  Off the very corner Busquets hit the bar with a header.

We scored in the 25th minute thanks to pre-season hero Thiago.  It was great to see him get a start after so many were saying he was bound to look elsewhere with all the midfield options but I believed then and believe now we will find a way to work him in.  He scored by running the ball toward the box and when no clear pass presented himself, he hit it with his left foot into the far right corner just as 5 defenders were about to close him down.  The rest of the half he did really well too, making lots of smart passes but more importantly running back hard to defend when he gave the ball away.  On a mini-tangent, that’s something Alexis does really well too, he runs hard for the ball like Pedro.  That’s going to be very useful for us.

But Rossi nearly scored just after we did when he was put through with a beautiful ball and then rocketed it into the side netting.

The rest of the half we had most the ball but you can tell it’s early season.  Many good runs are not being spotted and exploited quickly enough.  Nevertheless, our pressing has been relentless tonight with Villarreal seriously hardly getting a kick.

We made it 2-0 just before the break with another Cesc goal.  He’s fitting in perfectly and connecting with his former Masia team mate Messi like no time has passed.  He makes fantastic forward runs and is clinical with finishes and we are going to benefit hugely from it.  Messi played him in with perfect timing and precision as the new number 4 ran diagonally across the defense, he then touched it around the keeper and finished.

The second half was even easier and within the first 6 minutes we had doubled our advantage, first from a debutant and the other by number 10 Lio Messi.  In the 47th minute Alexis scored on his home debut after Thiago chipped it over the a player, inexperienced Villarreal left back Oriol tried to step up and play the young Chilean offside, but the rest of his defense did not follow his lead so Alexis ran towards goal and slotted it calmly into the net.  Messi finally got his name on the scoresheet in the 51st minute in a wonderful attacking movement that even had our leader Pep grinning from ear to ear.  It was a perfect barçs goal.  It took just 3 touches to set Messi free as Iniesta played it into Cesc who one touched it back to Iniesta, who one touched it through the defense.  Messi then touched it past the keeper and slotted it in for his 100th goal at the Camp Nou.  It took just 5 touches.

We made all 3 subs between the 56th and 70th minute with Xavi, Villa, and Dos Santos entering for Iniesta, Pedro, and Fàbregas respectively.

Messi capped the night off with a 5th that showed both class and sheer hunger.  Messi played it again diagonally behind the defense, something Villarreal could just not handle today, Thiago ran onto it, controlled it, then layed it inch perfect to an onrushing Messi who touched it into the goal before running into López.  That was 5-0 and a great opening match.

No rating tonight as everyone played between a 7 or 8.  Beside the usual excellence from Messi and co, Thiago and Alexis both had very good games.  Thiago in particular I enjoyed.  Alexis however showed his dogged and gritty nature, just like Pedro and Messi, in that they he will run down the ball everywhere and with 3 players harassing with such fervor at the front, our opponents are going to hate it.  I was pretty disappointed with Villarreal tonight and from the first minute I don’t think they believed for a moment they had a chance.  Even pre-match words from manager Garrido saying they need to be “perfect” to even have a chance does not inspire confidence.  I really hope they brush this off and refocus because I do not want them playing like that in the Champions League.  Firstly it will do La Liga no favors in terms of it’s image and secondly because I’m very much hoping they aid in knocking out Manchester City.

Mes que un club.

This entry was posted in Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas, La Liga, Leo Messi, Match reports, Thiago Alcantara, Victor Valdés. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Barcelona 5 – Villarreal 0

  1. Caleb says:

    Great stuff from the team. You can, like Bboy says, see it’s still early but we’re still getting goals and playing great defense.

    Villarreal was super lame today. If ever there was a game to take it to us it would have to be this one.. Barca often has off games beginning of the year, we had 1 “defender” in the game, and we played a system we’ve never really perfected. Surprised by our opponents weakness of character.

  2. barcacentralnic says:

    A fantastic game to watch and also a fascinating one tactically. Basically we played a carbon copy of Cruyff’s 3-4-3 system with Busquets as Koeman, Masch and Abidal as the “markers” just like Chapi Ferrer and Sergi. Keita doesn’t have the vision and distribution that Guardiola had, but he did a great covering job in front of the back line. Then where Cruyff had Amor and Eusebio we now saw Thiago and Iniesta who both had great games. Out wide, and properly sticking to the wing, we had Pedro and Alexis where in Cruyff’s team we might have seen Txiki and Stoichkov. And then roaming brilliantly in the Laudrup and Bakero tradition we now have this exciting new partnership of Leo Messi and Cesc Fabregas. Splendid combinations from these two, and I don’t mind admitting here that Fabregas is winning me over very quickly (as I’m sure he is a hell of a lot of us who doubted the wisdom of his signing). His late runs into the area combined with the Messi killer pass is going to be a big feature over the coming months and years. I won’t be surprised if he scores 15 or even 20 goals this season if he doesn’t get injured. Also delighted for Alexis getting a goal, it will do him a lot of good, though he showed he might not be the most cool-headed character with his shirt-off celebration. It’s such a shame that they have these silly bookings for such harmless expressions of joy. Of course the real reason that the powers that be have imposed such a ruling is that the shirt advertisers complain that they are not getting seen on the TV when the goalscoring player is in close-up. This has nothing to do with nipples!

  3. barcacentralnic says:

    And just read the always excellent Zonal Marking analysis of the game’s tactics –

  4. Payman says:

    5-0 > 6-0. Dont you agree guys?

    Visca el Barca!

  5. Loki says:

    I think I am appearing as Loki at the moment – this is also Barcacentralroger.

    I was amazed by the first 10 minutes – not that it was the part of the match when we played the best, more that we so entirely dominated possession and in a period of the game when we normally start off slow. I have to say that Cesc’s return seems to have brought a lot of energy to the team – almost a desire not just from him but from Iniesta and Messi (and others) to prove that he can work in this Barcelona line up. Also, the changes in formations over the past few games seems to be challenging the team in all the right ways, leaving me wondering whether some of the tinkering is not simply a response to bookings and injuries.

    Very glad that Alexis got his goal – that will settle the nerves somewhat – but hope for Villa to find his form too.

    Finally, what a bench we have now!

  6. Fredegar says:

    Just wanted to add a quick word on Keita: I didn’t see the whole game, mostly bits of it, but I thought he was very decent. Up to yesterday, I had always thought he was poor in this position, but in this configuration he gave a very good account of himself. Very solid and an excellent shield for our three-man defense, he also linked up play brilliantly, allowing our game to flow and to be very quick in transition. Will be interesting to see if he can repeat these kind of performances in a 433

  7. Edward says:

    One thought from the match: Pep does not feel comfortable with Fontas on the pitch. What is the sense in promoting him if he’s a) not ready, or b) not good enough. He’s always looked competent to me, but its become obvious that Pep does not rate him.

  8. barcentralomer says:

    Terrific display from brilliant Barca and Nic I agree from a tactical standpoint, fascinating to watch.
    Villarreal were last season the third best team to watch in La Liga and I didn’t expect them to be demolished the way they were. While I’m pleased as a Barca fan, I wonder how the continued dominance of the Big 2 will hurt La Liga in the long run. Oh well that is a different issue.

    Btw wishing a blessed and joyous Eid to all the Muslim members over here.

    @Nic: I was listening to a radio show online [Talksport I think] where somebody was claiming that its actually Lionel instead of the ‘Leo-nel’ pronunciation that most commentators use for Messi. The guy stated that he was actually named after Lionel Richie who’s his dad’s favourite artiste. Any truth to this?

  9. archigols! says:

    lets ave it mourinho!

  10. Barcelona have a DREAM TEAM!

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