Ousmane Dembélé scored his second and third goals of the LaLiga season as Barcelona swatted Villarreal aside at Camp Nou to extend their unbeaten run.
Ernesto Valverde claimed that the Clásico on Sunday would be 'decaffeinated' with Barça already crowned Liga champions, yet a feisty, ill-tempered match followed. The visit of Villarreal balanced things out on a placid evening.
The Yellow Submarine set the tone before the match by graciously forming a guard of honour for the Barcelona players, a gesture that Real Madrid had refused to give. Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring after 11 minutes but Dembélé was the architect. The 20-year-old has been unable to find his rhythm in Catalonia due to a succession of injuries, yet he showed no signs of rust as he accelerate past three players and forced Sergio Asenjo to parry his shot in to Coutinho's path.
Paulinho doubled Barcelona's lead five minutes later after fine work from Iniesta in the build-up. The veteran midfielder was central to Barça's third goal, as he chipped a delightful pass for Lionel Messi to volley in to the bottom corner. It was a glorious moment of mutual understanding and flawless execution. Yet it was tinged with a sense of sadness. With Iniesta's time at Camp Nou nearing an end, this was probably the last hurrah of a special relationship.
Villarreal belatedly began to compete after the break, and clawed a goal back in fortuitous fashion when Pablo Fornals' shot deflected off Nicola Sansone and in to the net.
It proved to be no more than a consolation. Dembéle added two goals in the final three minutes as the game became increasingly stretched. With the season coming to a close, he gave Camp Nou a glimpse of what he will contribute if injuries stay at bay.
Barcelona 5-1 Villarreal: as it happened
90'+3' GOOOOOOOOL! Another for Dembélé! From corner to conceding in seconds for Villarreal. Javi Fuego's volley from the edge of the box deflects back behind him and straight to Dembélé, who weaves forward and dinks the ball over Asenjo.
90'+3' Jaume Costa has a parting attempt, a rifled attempt that Cillessen knocks behind for a corner, which Villarreal squander.
90' Three minutes of added time.
90' Castillejo, who has been Villarreal's stand-out player, clips a low shot just wide from the edge of the box, after he worked an opening for Costa on the left.
87' GOOOOOOOL! Deserved from Dembélé! Rakitic saunters through pathetic challenges from Jaume Costa and Víctor Ruiz before squaring the ball for Dembélé to prod home at the back stick. Inexcusably woozy defending from Villarreal.
86' Castillejo is down in a heap after Rakitic halts his lung-bursting run. Castillejo's reaction won the foul there, as the tackle was clean.
85' Rakitic arcs a ball through to Dembélé at the far post. He thinks about stretching for it, but values the structural integrity of his hamstring and thus allows it to skid out for a goal kick.
83' Oooft! Villarreal almost get another deflected-off-Sansone goal! Rodrigo shoots from the edge of the box and it glances off Sansone's shoulder. Cillessen is wrong-footed as the ball drops just wide. That would have made for an interest final ten minutes.
82' Mario Gaspar sees yellow for a metatarsal-threatening challenge, treading on Digne's foot after the ball had gone.
80' Suárez darts off the shoulder of Víctor Ruiz and flashes a shot wide, knocking over Asenjo's water bottle as it passes the post. The linesman's flag was up in any case.
80' Tom and Yerry will form Barça's centre-half partnership for the rest of the match as Mina replaces Piqué.
79' The lively Samu Castillejo - who has been linked to Atlético Madrid of late - scampers through a couple of challenges but can't navigate Ivan Rakitic.
76' Vermaelen beats Ünal to a through-ball, only to put Cillessen in trouble with a forceful backpass from six yards away. The 'keeper hacks it clear but Barça hearts were in mouths for a brief moment.
75' Nicola Sansone lashes a shot over the bar as Villarreal continue to look the more likely to score. Twenty seconds later Sansone does exactly the same thing again - shooting over from 25 yards.
73' GOOOO.... No! The foot momentarily goes back on the pedal as Dembélé flicks the ball to Messi to rifle home, but he's in an offside position.
72' There's taking your foot off the pedal, and there's this second-half performance from Barça. The home side have taken their foot off the pedal and pulled up in a lay-by for a kip and a sandwich.
72' Javi Fuego has a tug at Messi's shirt to prevent him scampering away on the counter-attack. He gets a yellow card for his troubles.
70' Carlos Bacca won´t get his goal. He's off and Enes Ünal is on. That's Villarreal's final change.
67' Carlos Bacca takes Piqué out of the game with his first touch and shoots, weakly, straight in to Cillessen's arms. Bacca has been a mild nuisance tonight, but nothing more.
65' Sergio Busquets is the next man to make his way to the bench. Ivan Rakitic is the replacement.
63' Villarreal string together a succession of neat passes, which culminate in Jaume Costa putting a cross just in front of Javi Fuego. The substitute stretches for it but fails to get enough contact to direct it towards goal. It's a shame the visitors only starting playing once they were 3-0 behind.
62' Andrés Iniesta takes his leave to a standing ovation. Luis Suárez comes on in his place.
61' Oooh! Víctor Ruiz meets the cross with a strong downward header. Unfortunately for Villarreal, it's straight at Cillessen, who gets his body behind it right on the line.
60' Now Villarreal win a corner up at the other end as Vermaelen deflect's Bacca's shot behind.
58' Messi shapes to shoot before prodding the ball in to the path of a rampaging Paulinho. The Brazilian looks for the return ball but Víctor Ruiz cuts it out. Coutinho has a go from the corner and sends a half-volley over the bar.
57' Javi Fuego replaces Trigueros in the Villarreal midfield.
54' GOOOOOOL! Pablo Fornals shoots straight in to Nicola Sansone's midriff, which wrong-foots Cillessen as the ball rolls over the line. The Barça 'keeper claims handball. The referee disagrees. Will this be anything more than a consolation?
52' Bacca lifts a self-set-up volley wide of Cillessen's goal. He did well to get a shot away at all after a loose first touch that gave Piqué and Vermaelen time to close him down.
51' Ernesto Valverde is down on his haunches, stroking his chin. The man knows how to exude wisdom.
50' Fornals plays a perfectly-weighted pass for Castillejo to gallop on to. The blonde winger should really shoot first time, but instead puts the ball in to the centre for Piqué to clear.
49' Valverde has sent Suárez, Rakitic, and Andre Gomes to warm up on the touchline.
48' Sergio Busquets attempts one pirouette too many on the edge of his own box, allowing Castillejo to nab possession and curl the ball narrowly wide of the far post.
46' We've got ourselves an underway second half.
Lionel Messi and Ernesto Valverde emerge from the tunnel together, chatting away very cordially.
The teams are milling around in the tunnel ahead of the second half.
54,743 supporters in Camp Nou this evening.
Barcelona have cantered in to a comfortable lead at Camp Nou. Coutinho, Paulinho, and Messi the goalscorers as the unbeaten run looks set to continue.
45' And with that, the half-time whistle blows.
45' GOOOOOOOOOL MESSI! Two old-timers, Messi and Iniesta, link up with absolutely sumptuous results. Messi lays it back to Iniesta and then nips in behind. Iniesta chips it in to his path with a first-time pass, and Messi caresses it in to the bottom corner with a deft volley. Rolling back the years.
44' Víctor Ruiz is the first player to have his name scribbled in the referee's book. His crime was a late challenge on Messi.
44' Fornals has another pop at goal. This time it's tame, and Cillessen clears.
43' Vermaelen is looking sharp. He reads the play well to intercept the ball at the feet of Carlos Bacca.
41' Fornals forces Cillessen in to a smart save after Nelson Semedo loses his footing. That's a first shot on target for Villarreal.
40' Barça catch out the visitors on the break, with Messi setting Dembélé free on the right. The France winger then looks for the return cut-back to Messi, but it doesn't fall for the No.10.
39' Pablo Fornals has a decent opportunity to shoot on the left side of the box. He's reluctant to shoot on his weaker foot and instead passes to nobody in particular with the outside of his right boot.
38' The match is meandering towards the break, with Villarreal enjoying a rare extended spell of possession.
36' A speculative forward pass almost falls for Carlos Bacca. The ball doesn't quite sit down, though, and Piqué nips across to clear.
33' Castillejo has a rare gallivant forward, only to be thwarted by a combination of Digne and Paulinho before can shoot.
29' Víctor Ruiz knocks the ball over his own crossbar again. This time he's obliged to do so by a dangerous Nelson Semedo cross. Busquets nods the corner towards Piqué at the far post and the ball squirms behind. Replays reveal it knocked Víctor Ruiz's arm, but the referee awards a goal kick.
27' Dembélé is having a scorching match. He teases a gorgeous cross towards Coutinho, which Víctor Ruiz is forced to volley over his own goal. Villarreal clear the subsequent corner after Vermaelen strays offside.
26' Messi pauses on the edge of the box, waiting for Coutinho to overlap on the left. He plays the ball at the perfect moment before darting in to the box in search of the return ball. Álvaro has seen this develop ahead of him and steps out of defence to intercept.
25' Mario Gaspar tries, and fails, to get the better of Lucas Digne on the Barcelona left. Digne knocks the ball out for a throw-in and Villarreal go again.
22' Dembélé clips the ball towards Coutinho at the far post, just as the Brazilian makes a darting run towards goal. A dangerous move breaks down due to the two players being on different wave-lengths. Barça keep their foot on the accelerator, however, and Andrés Iniesta dribbles a shot wide from 25 yards out.
20' Barça have a free-kick between the penalty area and the touchline. Messi swings it in towards goal and is defied by the first man. A poor delivery by his standards.
18' Dembélé looks for a snappy one-two with Messi on the edge of the box, but strays offside at the crucial moment.
16' GOOOOOOOOL! Paulinho makes it two! That's a delightful short corner from Barça, who work the ball all the way around the outside of the box to Iniesta. He threads a pass through to Digne (with the help of a slight deflection) on the corner of the six-yard box and he squares it to Paulinho for a tap-in.
14' Pablo Fornals receives the ball on the half turn and scampers in to the Barça box. He fizzes a shot to the near post, which Cillessen tips behind. The corner comes to nothing but that's a reminder for Barça that they need to stay on their guard.
14' Dembélé upends Jaume Costa with a very late challenge. He escapes a booking.
11' GOOOOOOOL! Coutinho! That's all about Ousmane Dembélé, who picks up the ball in the centre of the pitch and Cruyff-turns in to space before accelerating forward. He weaves past three players and shoots to the far corner. Asenjo parries the ball, but straight in to the path of Coutinho, who prods home.
10' Messi, Dembélé, and Coutinho are drifting towards the centre of the pitch, leaving space for Digne and Semedo to use the flanks.
7' Lionel Messi has his first shot of the match. He picks up the ball on the corner of the box, jinks past Víctor Ruiz, and bends the ball the wrong side of Sergio Asenjo's far post.
6' Villarreal have a half-chance of breaking forward, but Pablo Fornals squanders it with an overcooked pass that flies over Cheryshev and out of play.
5' Barça are knocking the ball around in their own half, and Villarreal are perfectly happy to sit back and let that happen. A pedestrian start at Camp Nou, with a low-key atmosphere to match. It feels like Barça are on a post-Clásico comedown.
3' It looks like a 4-3-3 for Barça, as expected. Dembélé and Coutinho are either side of Messi in the front-three.
1' Villarreal make the first tentative move forward. Samu Castillejo teases down the left and threads a pass through to Bacca. The Colombian striker is on a different wavelength and Cillessen claims.
1' Off we go! Barcelona get the game underway.
Mario Gaspar, captaining Villarreal this evening, hands Iniesta a commemorative yellow submarine, mounted on a little plinth. If that doesn't get pride of place on his mantelpiece...
The teams are gathering in the bowels of Camp Nou. The Barça players have got special shirts with their mums' names on the back, as it was Mothers' Day in Spain at the weekend. Innit lovely.
The visitors limbering up at Camp Nou...
Barcelona incurred Atlético Madrid's wrath this earlier this week for their continued pursuit of Antoine Griezmann. "We have become increasingly fed up with Barcelona's attitude," said Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, the Atleti CEO. Cholo Simeone is grinning in this picture, but it does leave you with the suspicion that he is going to hold Griezmann in this vice-like grip until the end of the transfer window. 'Keep smiling Antoine, keep smiling...'
There was a great deal of bluster last week surrounding the question of whether Real Madrid would offer the Barcelona players a guard of honour at the start of El Clásico. In the end, they didn't. But had the decision been down to Iker Casillas...
A great deal of debate here at AS Towers as to whether Ernesto Valverde has 'rung the changes' or 'made wholesale changes'. Either way, the Barça coach brings in six fresh faces after el Clásico, and you can read about them here.
Villarreal XI: Asenjo; Mario, Álvaro, Víctor Ruiz, Costa; Trigueros, Rodri; Castillejo, Fornals, Cheryshev; Bacca.
Barcelona XI: Cillessen; Semedo, Piqué, Vermaelen, Digne; Paulinho, Busquets, Iniesta; Dembélé, Messi, Coutinho.
Buenas tardes! Welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of Barcelona vs Villarreal from Camp Nou. If it contains even 50% of the fun of Sunday's Clásico, we'll be in for a treat.
Te recomendamos en English
- 2021 TAX SEASON When does the IRS start accepting tax returns from filers in 2021? dates and deadlines
- US POLITICS What did Biden and Putin discuss in first presidential call?
- NETFLIX What movies and series are coming and leaving Netflix in February 2021?
- CORONAVIRUS Does Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine work against South Africa strain?
- US NEWS When was the first stimulus check sent out and how much was it?
- PREMIER LEAGUE Timo Werner and other tasks on Chelsea boss Tuchel's to-do list