Liga. In difficulty, Barça is doing well at Villarreal. Sport
The Xavi effect has its limits: four days after the draw at Camp Nou which greatly complicates its qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, the Catalans believed they were reliving the same nightmare on Saturday at the Ceramics stadium… Before a liberating final .
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Frenkie de Jong opened the scoring with his first goal of the season in the 50th minute, pushing the ball into the goal after a recovery from Memphis Depay released by Geronimo Rulli. But in the 77th minute, Samu Chukwueze, who had come into play a few minutes earlier in place of Yeremi Pino, took advantage of a placement error by the Catalan defense to equalize.
This goal revived Barça’s worst failures in recent months: we saw captain Sergio Busquets raise his arms in spite and bitch against young defender Oscar Mingueza, and Barça concede many clear chances … As in the end of the match against Benfica Lisbon on Tuesday.
But the outcome was different: in the 88th minute, Memphis Depay, however uninspired at the start of the game, erased Geronimo Rulli and kept his cool to score the goal of deliverance. Then Philippe Coutinho, entered in the 80th place in place of Nico, was hooked in the area by Juan Foyth, and himself was responsible for transforming the penalty (90th + 4).
The Catalans started the match at a very high pace, multiplying the hot situations in front of the opposing cages. Young winger Ez Abde (19) was the first to alert Geronimo Rulli with a header (4th), and Gavi also hit the right post five minutes later (9th).
Depay, often found with his back to goal, missed two opportunities: his left strike did not catch the frame in the 8th, nor his attempt in the 19th after a bright through pass from Frenkie de Jong.
But Barça, suffering, also showed its flaws. Xavi’s men eased off from the 20th minute until the break. Several players remained on the ground for long minutes, diminished by blows received: captain Sergio Busquets from the second minute, then in turn Jordi Alba and Ronald Araujo (36th).
Villarreal thus regained control of the ball and of the match, giving themselves several chances by Yeremi Pino or Arnaut Danjuma. And Marc-André ter Stegen even had, as often, to put out a well-felt parade on a strike from the Dutch international in the 38th.
Fortunately for the Blaugrana, the goal of Frenkie de Jong came to calm the ardor of the Yellow Submarine. Thanks to this success, the first of the season away from home and the second in three matches under the Xavi era, Barça continues to move up the standings.
Sunday, Atlético Madrid travel to Cadiz (6.30 p.m.) and Real Sociedad, second in the standings, to Espanyol Barcelona (4.15 p.m.). Real Madrid, meanwhile, host Sevilla FC at 9:00 p.m. at the Santiago-Bernabeu stadium for the matchday 15 poster.