Villareal vs FC Barcelona: Luck fails to reward commitment (0-0)
A hard working display from Barça wasn’t enough to see off Villarreal in a hard fought game the visitors had the best chances in, including a shot against the woodwork from Cesc on 78 minutes.
Barcelona (FCB).- Hit hard by injuries and maybe feeling the after-effects of their midweek exertions, Barça dropped two points at Villareal\u2019s El Madrigal stadium, despite fighting till the very end and with all means at their disposal. Villarreal proved to be a demanding opponent, belying their poor position in the table, disrupting FC Barcelona\u2019s game in the first half and defending valiantly after the break as Guardiola\u2019s men upped the pressure. Cesc hit the woodwork and Messi had his chances towards the end, but luck wasn\u2019t on Barça\u2019s side and despite all their hard work they now find themselves seven points behind Spanish League leaders Real Madrid, who earlier beat Zaragoza 3-1.
FC Barcelona Manager, Pep Guardiola, began the game with six possible defenders, but with a three man defence \u2013 Piqué, Puyol and Abidal - as Mascherano began in midfield and Adriano and Alves were used to maraud down the flanks. The first exchanges all went Barça\u2019s way - with 94% of possession by the seventh minute- and Alves (on 2 minutes) and Messi (on 17) both had good chances, but the Brazilian\u2019s shot was turned wide and Messi\u2019s crafty chip went just inches wide.
Villareal hit back
Villarreal gradually began to find a way into the game after withstanding the initial onslaught though, and with Cani and Borja Valero both taking no prisoners \u2013 with 15 fouls in the first 45 minutes \u2013 they began to create their own danger. Mascherano was forced to clear with Valdes beaten on 27 minutes and soon after Marco Rubén should have done better to round off a quick counter attack. There was even a disallowed goal from Gonzalo for a clear offside as the hosts enjoyed their best moments, forcing Guardiola to drop Mascherano into a back four.
Guardiola looks for width
Villarreal continued to trouble Barça after the break - with a big shout for a penalty on Borja by Busquets \u2013 until the Champions again lifted their game and began to spread the ball wide for Adriano, who saw one excellent cross go begging in the absence of a clear striker up front. Guardiola then brought on Alexis for Piqué to offer more penetration and Barça were now back in control and the chances began to flow as they laid siege to the Villarreal area.
Woodwork denies Cesc
The last 15 minutes saw Villarreal pinned back in their half, desperately trying to waste time and run the clock down as Guardiola threw on the incisive Tello and Thiago to try and get the winning goal. Barça went at the task with plenty of commitment, but they were out of luck when Cesc hit the bar after great play from Tello on 78 minutes and Messi again found Villarreal keeper Diego López up to the job on 86 minutes. FC Barcelona never let their heads drop and kept on looking for the win till the end \u2013 something they are sure to do till the end of the season!