Villarreal hosted Barça at La Cerámica Stadium on an alarming situation. Setién´s team was forced to win in order to stay alive on chasing Real Madrid after their win at San Mamés. On the other side, Villarreal, one of the strongest teams right now, wanted to keep their momentum and grab a victory that could allow them to dream about the Champions League.
Barcelona really needed a reaction to end with their recent negative dynamic, and it came early: combinative play by the Blaugranas, classic run by Jordi Alba on the left, and a cross that central defender Pau Torres sent in by accident. The goal surprised Calleja´s team and Barça took over the ball immediately. However, a poor defensive approach on Barça, as it has been usual recently, left space for Paco Alcácer to send a pass through the lines to Santi Cazorla, who took a shot that Ter Stegen saved, but he gave away a second play inside the box that forward Gerard Moreno made the most out of to score the equalizer.
Barça seemed to see them locked in the same script over and over again, but the feelings were different this time, as the Blaugranas were showing a better performance today. As a result, they managed to put themselves ahead on the scoreboard again thanks to a brilliant action by Messi, who drove the ball towards the box and opened up to Suárez, who took a magnificent shot to the top right of the goal to beat keeper Asenjo.
As minutes passed by, Barcelona had total control of the ball and Villareal did not have any other option but trying to go out on offensive transitions and counterattacks, and they were closed to tie it up again through a shot by Bacca, but Ter Stegen avoided it. Arturo Vidal missed again on the next play. Both teams were giving us a very entertained game, full of scoring opportunities, but the domain was Blaugrana. Griezmann was the one to increase Barça´s lead thanks to an outstanding chip above Asenjo, who could just witness how the ball went in. This way, Barça got a comfortable lead at halftime and Villarreal were not showing off their strengths as they had done on their last meets.
Barça were very comfortable the whole second half, with an unrecognizable Villarreal due to the outstanding performance by Barcelona. Setién´s team had no rush in the second half and just slept it down, while Villarreal did not find the way to create danger. Messi scored again, but the goal was disallowed.
The result could have been way bigger if it had not been by Asenjo´s safes, but he couldn´t avoid Ansu Fati´s fourth: He drove the ball from the left wing, dribbled the defenders and executed a perfect shot to the short post deceiving the keeper.
Finally, the match was going to finish on a 1-4 score. Barça recovered the positive sensations of a solvent team thanks to Setién´s system. The victory allows them to stay on the race for La Liga title. Villarreal were not comfortable, had lack of aggressiveness and loose an opportunity to get closer to Sevilla, which still have to play tomorrow.