Villarreal 1-4 Barcelona: Griezmann ends goal drought in Messi masterclass

By Sports Desk July 05, 2020

Antoine Griezmann ended his goal drought with a stunning finish and Lionel Messi tormented Villarreal as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 LaLiga victory on Sunday.

Barca's grip on the title had slipped with back-to-back draws and bitter rivals Real Madrid moved seven points clear at the top with a win at Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day, but the champions responded at Estadio de la Ceramica.

An early Pau Torres own goal put Barca in front and the mercurial Messi set up sensational strikes from Luis Suarez and Griezmann after the in-form Gerard Moreno equalised, with Ansu Fati adding a fourth late on.

Griezmann had gone eight games without a goal, but silenced his critics with a moment of class in a breathtaking attacking display from Barca, with Messi – who had a goal disallowed and hit the crossbar – starring at the end of a week in which his future has been the subject of more speculation.

Previously in-form Villarreal have still not beaten the Catalan giants since 2008 and their first defeat since the season restarted is a blow to their bid for a Champions League spot.

Barca made a blistering start and they were rewarded when Torres turned the ball into his own net just three minutes in with Griezmann waiting to pounce on Jordi Alba's cross behind him.

The Blaugrana were causing the home side all sorts of problems going forward but looked vulnerable on the break and Moreno levelled clinically against the run of play with 14 minutes played after Marc-Andre ter Stegen palmed away Santi Cazorla's strike.

Barca wasted little time in regaining the lead, though, Messi running from just inside the Villarreal half and beating two players before finding Suarez, who picked out the far corner with a sublime first-time finish from the edge of the penalty area.

Arturo Vidal and Suarez came close before Griezmann added a third just before half-time, lobbing Sergio Asenjo with a superb effort after Messi set him up with a cheeky backheel following another penetrating run.

The busy Asenjo denied Suarez and Vidal after the break and Messi had a goal chalked off after VAR ruled he had been offside before tucking in Sergi Roberto's cutback.

Fati came off the bench to put the icing on the cake, cutting in from the left to fire home and Messi rattled the crossbar with a free-kick before Asenjo superbly saved Martin Braithwaite's header following up.

  

What does it mean? Relief for Setien

Barca boss Quique Setien has come under fire, but his players appear to be behind him on the evidence of this performance.

On a day when it was revealed Xavi, linked with the Barca hotseat, will stay at Al-Sadd, the defending champions showed they will not give up their title without a fight with four games to play.

Messi magic, Griezmann shows his class

Griezmann has had a tough first season at Barca, but he showed what he is capable of with the finish of a player who is anything but short of confidence.

It was Messi who was the star of the show, though, yet again, slipping away from defenders with ease and laying on two goals with sheer brilliance and not looking like a man eager to leave Camp Nou.

Semedo all at sea

Barca full-back Nelson Semedo looked vulnerable defensively in the first half and was hooked off early in the second. Setien's men were too open at the back in the first half and Semedo was caught out too often.

What's next?

Barca host lowly Espanyol in a derby clash on Wednesday, with Villarreal facing a tricky trip to sixth-placed Getafe on the same evening.

Related items

  • Mourinho: Spurs still 'trying' in transfer market Mourinho: Spurs still 'trying' in transfer market

    Jose Mourinho has reiterated Tottenham remain keen on making even more additions to their squad in this transfer window.

    Spurs have so far brought in four new players, having last week added Real Madrid pair Sergio Reguilon and Gareth Bale to a group that had already been bolstered by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty.

    Inter's Milan Skriniar and Southampton's Danny Ings have also been linked to the north London club as Mourinho targets both a centre-back and a central striker that can deputise for Harry Kane.

    "The market is open, we have a good squad," Mourinho told reporters.

    "Can we have a better squad than we have now? Yes, we can. Is the club trying to build that balanced squad that we all want? Yes, we are trying. Let’s see if that’s possible."

    That squad tinkering could include departures too, though.

    Dele Alli's Tottenham future looks bleak after he was left out of the squad to face Southampton at the weekend having been hauled off at half-time in the loss to Everton.

    Mourinho excluded the England international on that occasion because he felt he had too many attacking options, and he took the 24-year-old off on Thursday for Kane shortly after Shkendija had equalised in their Europa League tie.

    Tottenham went on to win 3-1, and though Mourinho did not single out Alli for criticism, he bemoaned the entire team's display before Kane's introduction.

    "The team didn't play very well, as a team," the Portuguese said.

    "It's hard to individualise, it's hard to say player A, B or C when the reality is that the team didn't play very well.

    "For the last 30 minutes, the team played well. We used the wings, we had occupation in the box, we had Harry not losing the ball, dropping back and linking the play. The team improved a lot in the last 30 minutes."

    One man who does appear to have convinced Mourinho he is worthy of a starting spot moving forward is record signing Tanguy Ndombele.

    The Frenchman was taken off at half-time against Southampton - when he was making his first start since March - but lasted 90 minutes on Thursday and earned Mourinho's praise.

    "He played very well," Mourinho said of Ndombele.

    "I don't have the data in my hands but I imagine our percentage of the ball was very high and when it is high he feels much more comfortable. But even without the ball he had good recovery, duels, defensive transition, it was a very positive game from Tanguy, really happy.

    "Can he play on Sunday [against Newcastle United]? I’m not sure. We have to see how he reacts and recovers from it but we have so many matches coming that if a player is not able to play in the next match then he will be able to play in the next one."

  • De Gea feels better than ever, says Man Utd need trophies now De Gea feels better than ever, says Man Utd need trophies now

    David de Gea insists he feels better than ever at the start of a pivotal season in his Manchester United career. 

    The Spain international came under scrutiny last season following some high-profile mistakes and now faces pressure for his place after Dean Henderson – who starred on loan at Sheffield United – was kept at Old Trafford and signed a new long-term deal. 

    Henderson impressed on his United debut in their EFL Cup win at Luton Town this week but De Gea remains number one going into Saturday's Premier League fixture with Brighton and Hove Albion. 

    "Yeah maybe [people forget I'm still young] because I have been playing a lot since I was very young, but right now I feel probably the best I have felt in my career," the 29-year-old said to MUTV. 

    "I feel very, very well and very confident and very positive and that's very important for me. 

    "It's great to train every day here with the coaches and the goalkeepers. We always try to learn from each other and try to push altogether. It is great. 

    "If you see the training it’s really good to see the goalkeepers together - very important to have good feelings with the other goalkeepers and the goalkeeping coaches as well. 

    "We are training very, very well – the whole department of keepers. We need to be at this level every day and to show the players that the keepers are feeling 100 per cent."

    A dreadful start to United's Premier League campaign saw them suffer a 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace, a blow after they made such a strong finish to end up third last season. 

    De Gea saved a second-half penalty from Jordan Ayew but it had to be taken again after it was ruled he had fractionally stepped off his line, allowing Wilfried Zaha to net. 

    "It was a bit crazy," reflected De Gea. "It is already difficult to save a penalty. 

    "Even if you make the save and they repeat the penalty then they can change the taker so there is no pressure on the player who missed the penalty - it's a little bit strange. 

    "Those are the rules though and I try to save the next penalty straight from the line, that's the football rules." 

    He added: "It's true the first game wasn’t the best game for us. It was a strange time after last season not having enough time to rest properly but it's the same for all teams. 

    "It's time to start winning games. Last season we finished really, really strong, so we need to try to play as we did in the last 10 games. This is the way we need to be and playing our best football. 

    "Now it's time to be back to winning ways and winning trophies, that's the most important thing for us at the moment. We have to go for trophies."

  • Spurs walkover sets up Mourinho for Chelsea clash in EFL Cup Spurs walkover sets up Mourinho for Chelsea clash in EFL Cup

    Jose Mourinho will face his former club Chelsea in the EFL Cup fourth round after Tottenham's bye through to the last 16 was confirmed on Friday.

    Spurs had been due to play Leyton Orient in round three of the competition; however, a COVID-19 outbreak in the League Two club's ranks meant Tuesday's game could not go ahead this week.

    The EFL did not make an immediate decision on the fate of that tie, but has now announced Tottenham will be given a walkover.

    It means Mourinho's Spurs will host Chelsea next Tuesday - September 29 - with a quarter-final place at stake.

    The EFL said in a statement: "The round three tie scheduled for Tuesday 22 September between Leyton Orient and Tottenham Hotspur could not take place following the issue by Waltham Forest Borough Council of an order preventing the match being played as planned. This followed a number of Leyton Orient players testing positive for COVID-19."

    Citing rule 5.1 of the competition's regulations, which is specific to the non-fulfilment of fixtures, the EFL board ruled that Orient would be eliminated.

    "The club was unable to fulfil its obligations to complete the fixture by virtue of the council’s order and shall therefore forfeit the tie," the EFL statement read.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.