Griezmann 7/10 but Messi injury in Barca's win vs. Villarreal is cause for concern
Barcelona got back to winning ways by beating Villarreal 2-1 at Camp Nou on Tuesday after being beaten by Granada at the weekend.
Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring with a header from a corner and Arthur Melo doubled Barca's lead with a brilliant long-range effort. Barca, though, lost Lionel Messi to a groin problem at the break and had to hold on in the second period after Santi Cazorla's stunner on the stroke of half-time brought Villarreal back into the game.
Ernesto Valverde just needed any win after Saturday's horrific 2-0 defeat at Granada that confirmed Barca's worst La Liga start in 25 years. In that sense, it's a case of job done but the real test now comes at Getafe on Saturday. It's away from home, where Barca haven't won in four games this season, that the Spanish champions have had problems, not at Camp Nou.
Ousmane Dembele also returned from a hamstring problem to add more energy to a hobbled squad and more options in attack, while there was another electric cameo from Ansu Fati and a welcome goal for Griezmann.
Messi was making his first start of the season after returning from a calf injury but didn't make the second half. He was taken off with a groin problem as a precaution. Barca will hope it's nothing more serious than that.
The Catalans also failed to keep a clean sheet once again. That's six league games without a shutout this term.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Valverde paired Griezmann, Messi and Luis Suarez together for the first time and the result was an early 2-0 lead. His substitutes also worked in the second half, with Frenkie de Jong adding calm to midfield and Ansu adding a spark on the left.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Given his high standards, will feel he could have done better with Cazorla's goal. It was a brilliant strike and the ball swerved a lot, but it wasn't out of the German's reach.
DF Nelson Semedo, 6 -- Had some nice moments on the ball and wasn't largely troubled in the back, but Barca need him to deliver more in the final third.
DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Avoided a fifth booking in just six league games and will be available for the weekend's game at Getafe. Drew a late save from Sergio Asenjo when free-kick duties were somehow bestowed upon him.
DF Clement Lenglet, 6 -- Much better than at Granada. One second-half block on Samuel Chukwueze was especially impressive and he did well to keep on top of the threat posed by the pace of Villarreal's front line.
DF Junior Firpo, 6 -- Recovered from his error against Granada by producing a decent performance. Linked well with Griezmann and made some good runs in attack.
MF Sergio Busquets, 6 -- Barca's two losses this season have come when Busquets hasn't played a minute. He's not the player he was, but he's still key to this team.
MF Sergi Roberto, 5 -- A second successive start in midfield but he's not offering enough there. Runs a lot but, while he doesn't like to admit it, his best place in this side these days is probably at right-back.
MF Arthur Melo, 7 -- Much more forward-thinking this season, which is good to see. Had already shown a positive approach at Osasuna and delivered again with a brilliant strike from almost 30 yards to double Barca's lead.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- Took control of the game early on and set up Griezmann's opener from a corner. Unfortunately, his night effectively ended after 30 minutes even though he hobbled on until half-time.
FW Luis Suarez, 5 -- A third disappointing display in a row. Slow when the ball came his way in dangerous areas and was wayward with his passing. Whistled by a small section of the crowd when he was taken off.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 7 -- Played with more freedom than he has done in recent weeks. Took his goal well and linked well with Messi when the Argentine was on the pitch. Almost added a second in stoppage time, shooting just over.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 6 -- Made an instant impact when he came on, running at players and putting dangerous balls into the box. Stumbled a bit as the second half progressed.
MF Frenkie de Jong, 6 -- Brought on just after the hour mark to help Barca regain control of a game Villarreal were threatening to come back in.
FW Ansu Fati, NR -- Was on for only 10 minutes but brought the crowd to their feet on several occasions. Had one effort go just wide, a penalty appeal turned down and won a free-kick on the edge of the box. He's only 16 but he really does look like the real deal.