With the fate of La Liga officially out of our hands, all we can do is continue to win and hope for a slip-up. The match on the weekend against Villarreal was a test: The best defense in the league was rolling, having won its last three games. But Barça found a way, as they often do.
The match began with the lineup we expected- except for one player. Jordi Alba had been replaced by Lucas Digne at left back, a move that many blaugranas questioned. However, as we’ll see, it didn’t have much of an impact.
From the start, Barcelona had possession and created opportunities. Villarreal did a good job of bottling up Luis Suárez early, and their title as best defensive team showed. Time and again they stopped an attack, but Barcelona quickly recovered against any counter-attack opportunities.
The scoring opened in the 21st minute with Neymar’s toe poke. Despite calls for offside, the replay showed he was well and truly on.
However, Barcelona would slip up at the back, with Cedric Bakambu getting in behind Gerard Piqué and equalizing. It was a very nice run and pass forward, and ter Stegen could do nothing to stop it.
But just before halftime, the ship would be righted with Messi’s low shot that skipped off a defender. After leaving a defender in the dust, he calmly netted the shot.
Second half theatrics would prove to be Villarreal’s undoing. Neymar was on form all night, and he gave the right side of the defense conniptions. His forays into the box opened up so much for everyone else.
In the 71st minute, Sergi Roberto took the ball and raced up the field, finding Suarez, who cut back onto his right foot after faking left. His shot was too powerful to stop – 3-1 Barcelona.
In the 81st minute, Neymar lobbed it over a defender and pulled a cross off. When Suárez tried to pass it back towards the middle, it was called a handball on Juame Costa. Penalty. Messi stepped up and calmly chipped it in to make it 4-1.
Messi now has 35 goals in 32 Liga games, by the way. At this point, it seems that the Pichichi is his to take.
Overall, good win. Like I said, it’s out of our hands now, but we need to continue winning the way we are. Nothing’s over yet.