Barcelona player ratings vs Villarreal: Lamine Yamal is the real deal! Wonderkid helps rescue victory in seven-goal thriller as Blaugrana defensive deficiencies exposed

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Lamine Yamal Barcelona 2023-24
The 16-year-old academy product dazzled for Xavi's side as they won a topsy-turvy encounter 4-3 on Sunday

Lamine Yamal saved Barcelona to continue an excellent start to his senior career in Catalunya. He assisted one, could have scored two, and was crucial in Barca's winner as they narrowly beat Villarreal in a chaotic contest on Sunday.

Barca nearly conceded twice early, but were saved by first a neat stop from Marc-Andre ter Stegen and then the offside flag, and they soon capitalised on their opponent's inability to finish. Yamal, the 16-year-old winger entrusted with his second straight start, provided an inch-perfect cross for Gavi — who nodded home at the far post. The second came just three minutes later, with Frenkie de Jong completing a fine team move.

But the home side weren't so easily silenced. Villarreal responded on 26 minutes, Juan Foyth rising to meet Alex Baena's corner with a bullet header. Alex Sorloth then found the equaliser shortly before half-time, peeling off unmarked at the far post to complete a smooth counter-attack.

Villarreal only improved after the break and added a third early in the second period, carving up a vulnerable defence — a sequence that finished with a curled effort from Baena. Barca turned things around, though, as substitute Ferran Torres came off the bench to score in his second straight match before Robert Lewandowski then swung the contest back the other way, sealing a 4-3 win — with Yamal crucial in the build up.

GOAL rates Barcelona's players from El Madrigal...

  1. Goalkeeper & Defence
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    Goalkeeper & Defence

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen (6/10):

    Tested early and produced an excellent save. Came up with two more in the first half. Hard to fault him for any of the Villarreal goals.

    Sergi Roberto (4/10):

    Didn't show the most positional discipline, and was given a difficult afternoon by Baena. He may be captain, but Roberto doesn't look up to the first team.

    Jules Kounde (6/10):

    Exploitable in the early goings, not much better after. Still isn't necessarily a centre-back — despite being played there.

    Andreas Christensen (6/10):

    Didn't have his best half. Doesn't look as comfortable without Ronald Araujo. Removed at the break.

    Marcos Alonso (4/10):

    An unlikely starter with Alejandro Balde benched. Immensely vulnerable, and was nowhere to be found on two of Villarreal's three goals.

  2. Midfield
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    Oriol Romeu (4/10):

    Steady on the ball in the middle of the park, but he can be a liability without it. His lack of pace leaves Barca exposed on the break. Deservedly removed after an hour.

    Frenkie de Jong (6/10):

    Scored Barca's second to cap off a lovely move, and impactful in the build up. Doesn't quite have the necessary understanding with Romeu, and it can leave Barca exposed.

    Gavi (6/10):

    Took his goal well with a neat header. Wasn't really involved, otherwise.

    Ilkay Gundogan (7/10):

    Offered a real attacking threat to support Barca's two more obvious forward players. Probably the best of the midfield four.

  3. Attack
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    Lamine Yamal (9/10):

    Assisted Gavi's opener. Hit the post twice. Unlucky not to grab a goal — it was the only thing missing from an immense performance.

    Robert Lewandowski (7/10):

    Far livelier after a poor run of form. Scored the eventual winner to end a four-game scoreless streak.

  4. Subs & Manager
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    Subs & Manager

    Eric Garcia (6/10):

    Brought on for Christensen, which didn't help with Barca's already lacking defensive setup.

    Ferran Torres (7/10):

    The first attacking option off the bench. Scored within a few minutes of being introduced. He's enjoyed an encouraging start to the campaign.

    Ansu Fati (6/10):

    Had little impact after being introduced.

    Fermin Lopez (N/A):

    Only on the pitch for five minutes

    Xavi (6/10):

    Went for his strongest side despite a handful of injury concerns. Barca were mixed — excellent in short spells, and on the back foot in others. He was saved by a 16-year-old, which isn't ideal, but he has a real talent on his hands.