Rating Barca’s performance vs Villarreal based on 4 key factors

Rating Barca's performance vs Villarreal based on 4 key factors

Barcelona got their first away win in the 2021/22 La Liga after beating Villarreal 3-1 away. Although the result is a positive one, the team’s performance does not necessarily correspond.

Here’s how we rate Barca’s performance on Saturday night.

Tactics

Against Villarreal, Xavi made several changes to his tactics. First of all, the team returned to a 4-3-3 formation. Abde Ezzalzouli played from the start. And last, the coach used two players out of position: Eric Garcia at right-back and Gavi at left wing.

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While we are used to the latter, the choice to play Eric as a full-back raises a lot of questions.

The Spaniard was poor defensively, committed a mistake that could’ve led to a goal, and was absolutely useless in attack.

To prove the point, here’s a picture showing that Barca attack mostly down the left side while Villarreal focused on Garcia’s zone.

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However, the style remained the same, as Barca pressed high and tried to keep the ball. The pressing worked quite well and the Catalans were able to create a few chances after winning the ball high up. Their passing wasn’t the best, though. In fact, they ended the game with just 50% possession.

The fact that Xavi’s men got outplayed is evident when you look at the positional report: 38% of the game happened in Barca’s half and only 26% in Villarreal’s.

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Tactics rating: 4/10

Defence

Barca’s defence was disappointing against Villarreal, as they allowed 14 shots in total.

The Catalans could’ve definitely conceded more if not for a great save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, a miraculous sliding tackle from Gerard Pique and a few unexplainable misses from the home side.

Most of the danger came from the right side. Garcia did a bad job at right-back and Abde did little to help him out.

In the second half, the Yellow Submarine mainly targetted the left side after Oscar Mingueza replaced Jordi Alba, although the goal still came from Eric’s area.

Defence rating: 3/10

Finishing

Barca recorded five big chances and scored three of them. On paper, it does not look that bad, but the match could’ve gone differently had Barca taken their chances early.

Gavi missed a shot from inside the penalty the box in the 9th minute as he hit the far post. About 10 minutes later, Memphis Depay missed a one-on-one after a masterful through ball from Frenkie de Jong.

After the break, the Catalans scored most of their chances. The goals were scored by Depay, De Jong and Philippe Coutinho (penalty).

Memphis deserves special praise here as his goal came out of nothing.

He simply capitalized on a mistake made by the Villarreal defenders. Here is what it looked like.

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Finishing rating: 6/10

Team spirit

As Xavi admitted after the game, the Villarreal win was mostly down to the team’s spirit.

The Blaugranas worked relentlessly throughout the game and no player was caught slacking. 

Sergio Busquets continued playing despite a nasty knock early in the game.

The squad attacked and defended as a unit. Although it did not work all the time, the effort and dedication were obvious.

And what’s most important, Barca did not crumble after conceding a silly goal just 15 minutes before the end of the game and were able to get the three points in the end.

Team spirit rating: 9/10

Overall rating: 5.5/10

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