In the absence of continuity, when it does not have Messi as a common thread and its matches present extreme peaks, Barcelona needs detailed players like Griezmann. Nobody stands out better or finishes with a touch with the success of the Frenchman, who signed the victory in a moment of Barça exhibition, not even interrupted by the 1-0 of Villarreal. The game, the day and the classification demanded a response from Barça and Griezmann made it 1-1 and 1-2. In favor of the scoreboard, the Barça fans stopped attacking and gave themselves up to a surprising defensive exercise, even with numerical superiority due to the expulsion of Trigueros. It is difficult for Barça to finish their best matches, brave at the beginning when more expectation arouses in their rivals, and fearful at the end, determined to save with the defenders the result won with the deployment of imperial midfielders such as De Jong and Griezmann’s category gunners. .
The Cup title, in any case, has freed Barça in the sprint for winning the League in the same way as the semi-final of the Europa League and their comeback in the Spanish championship has enlarged a team always well regarded as Villarreal. The poster cited two optimistic teams and the game was intense and fun, nothing strange on the other hand if one remembers the scoring afternoons of El Madrigal, usually grateful for the visits of Barcelona. The carefree Barça team plays at the start, without fear of losing but willing to chain victories rather than to discount days, aware that they are facing an unsuspected opportunity, pardoned by their enemies, pushed by the work of Johan Cruyff and grateful to the helpful character scored by Tito Vilanova.
April 25 was the day the Dutch coach was born (1947) and Tito died (2014) and also the day of the penalty that Riquelme missed in the Champions League semi-final against Arsenal (2006). The figure of Villarreal responds today to the name of Gerard Moreno, a fan and former parakeet player, always defiant with the Catalans, who competes for the top scorer with Messi. The Catalan forward started with two shots that did not find the goal despite his position of advantage over Ter Stegen. The Barcelona reply, however, was even more dizzying with two exquisite drops and a failed shot by De Jong. The Dutchman unsuccessfully enabled Griezmann and Dest and later forgave in a point-blank shot against Asenjo.
Very few midfielders interpret total football better than De Jong, consistent with the latest biography on Cruyff, entitled Always on the attack and written by Auke Kok. The Barça offense was tremendous for Villarreal. Not even Chukwueze’s goal, excellent in dribbling the Barça goal, after being assisted by a deep pass from Pau Torres and a slip from Jordi Alba, stopped the unchained Barcelona. The Catalans attacked non-stop, sometimes from the sides and sometimes from the center, always focused on a prodigious Asenjo. The clash demanded the intervention of Messi to put an end to the excellent Barcelona football when Griezmann appeared, timely and delicate, protagonist of the Barça lift.
The Frenchman’s subtle left-hander dodged Asenjo’s exit after a long touch into space from Mingueza and later intercepted a loan from Foyth, pressured by Pedri’s pressure, to make it 1-2 in no time. Even Griezmann seems to have found his place in the team designed by Koeman on the fly. The frenetic Barça monologue lasted until Villarreal recovered at half-time and took control, very aware of Unai Emery’s tactical changes.
Barça relaxed, stopped pressing and, given the loss of the leather, concentrated defensively, more concerned with not making mistakes and counterattack than closing the match, too exposed to Chukwueze’s imbalance. Koeman became so upset that he removed Pedri to put Ilaix in.
The young midfielder increased the energy and revolutions of a diminished Barcelona even after Manu Trigueros was sent off for a tackle on Messi’s left ankle. It did not seem that Villarreal played outnumbered but even had more dominance and offensive presence than Barcelona. The Catalans are not used to resting with the ball but they always need to play at a high rate, too vulnerable when they hang down and take refuge in the Ter Stegen area. It is difficult for Barça to resist no matter how much Piqué has presence, he loses his charm when he stops pressing on the divide, he does not even know how to push the ball in plays that are goal or goal as happens to De Jong.
The contest was very open and at the expense of Messi and Gerard Moreno. Neither of them succeeded and the Barça 10 was meant to retain the leather while Koeman appealed to a central quarter like Araujo. The end justified the means for the Catalans, exposed to an accident, too scarce in abundance after being generous in the demand, finally victorious due to the intervention of Griezmann. Today there are times of revenge for the French and for Barça. The Catalans play to win the League. The problem is that the closer they are to victory, the possibility of defeat becomes more complex, as was seen in Vila-real.