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August 31, 2014
• Camp El Madrigal, Villarreal
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
• Attendance: 21200
Sandro Ramírez 82'
That's it from me, Harry Slavin. Thanks for joining me this evening for the action from El Madrigal. There is still more La Liga action to come as Real Sociedad take on Real Madrid so be sure to stick around for that. Until next time though, it's bye for now!
FULL TIME: VILLARREAL 0-1 BARCELONA. It wasn't pretty, but you know what they say about the top teams. Not a vintage display by any means from Barcelona but Messi delivered when it mattered, setting up Sandro for the only goal of the game, and Luis Enrique's side maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.
90' + 2'
That was the chance! A beautiful flowing move from the hosts sees Dos Santos slip a ball across Bravo's six-yard box but it's just too far in front of Vietto and the chance goes begging!
90' + 1'
We are now into three minutes of stoppage time at the end of this one.
Neymar gets up to meet Alves' cross but he gets his connection all wrong, sending his effort high and wide. That's been a few chances now for Barca to kill to this one off. Surely they won't come to rue these misses?
Messi gets down the right agains and sends a teasing ball across the face of the six-yard box but neither Neymar nor Sandro can turn it in! That would have killed the game off there and then!
VIETTO!!! A botched clearance from Mathieu cannons off Busquets straight into the path of the substitute inside the box. He snatches at the chance though and sends his effort high and wide of Bravo's goal.
Almost and instant response from Villarreal! A corner for the hosts is flicked on at the front post and Dos Santos steals a yard at the back stick. He connects on the volley but his effort comes off the outside of the post.
GOOOOAAAALLL!!! SANDRO BREAKS THE DEADLOCK!!! Sandro has put Barcelona in the lead with virtually his first touch! Messi is the architect as he twists Asenjo into submission before sending the ball under him and into the middle of the goal, where Sandro pokes home into an unguarded net.
Goal Sandro Ramírez
Into the final ten minutes we go then. Barcelona's substitutions have seen the pressure cranked up on this home side defence. Can they finally find that breakthrough?
It was Dani Alves with the cut back that found Messi. The full-back is attacking down the right flank once more moments later but his cross is straight into the hands of Asenjo.
Still the opening goal won't come! Messi is picked out by a cunning cutback but the Argentine sends his low effort wide of the target, via a deflection off of a Villarreal boot. Time beginning to run out now.
Here comes a big change for Barcelona. Rafinha is off and Xavi is on for the final 15 minutes. That's the second change for the visitors as they search for that elusive opening goal.
POST!!! Villarreal go within inches of taking the lead at El Madrigal! The ball breaks to Pina on the edge of the box and his well struck effort smacks the inside of the post, while Vietto sends the rebound inches wide.
Messi breaks into the box again and this time his cross eventually falls to Neymar, but his shot blazes over the bar with the Brazilian leaning back. Meanwhile Villarreal have brought on former Barca man Espinosa for Cani.
What a chance for Barcelona! Messi breaks clear down the flank at bears down on goal. But instead of shooting, the pint-sized magician attempt to find Neymar with a square ball. Musacchio is back on the line to stop the cross and then block Neymar's follow up. Great defending.
Messi gets up and blasts another well taken free kick to Asenjo's goal. This time the Villarreal keeper is more than equal to it, pulling off a flying one-handed stop to tip the ball out for a corner.
Messi is getting frustrated by some of the challenges coming in from the Villarreal defence. The Argentine has just had a word with the referee about the tackles, as he is taken out once again on the edge of the area.
A change for the hosts as Vietto comes on for Cheryshev. Meanwhile Barcelona are beginning to get a bit of joy down the right flank again - Pedro has floated out there and Alves is bombing on.
Another chance! From the corner, the ball finds Mathieu at the back post. He's picked up that position all evening for the visitors but a cracking last ditch challenge from Ruiz is enough to put him off. The referee the awards a goal kick, much to the centre-back's amazement. A poor decision.
Great move from Barcelona! Easily their brightest moment of the half as Messi and Pedro combine to tee up Rakitic. He tries to send a low ball across goal though instead of shooting and a sea of yellow shirts in his way to turn it behind for a corner.
Munir El Haddadi
It's Barcelona that are actually going to make a change just now. Neymar is on for Munir up top as they continue to search for that opening goal. Could the Brazilian hold the key?
More space for Alba but much poorer execution on this occasion as his cross from a deep position is straight down the throat of Asenjo. Costa looks to have booked up knock for the hosts and may have to come off here.
Lovely footwork from Alba! The full-back skips past a couple of tackles and sends in a dangerous cross to the back post, but Rakitic can't sort his feet out quickly enough to get a shot away and the chance is gone.
Pedro is sent sprawling inside the opposition half. The free kick is taken quickly as Barcelona look to pounce as the hosts regroup, but they can't penetrate the yellow wall on this occasion.
POST!!! Almost an own goal from Mathieu! Cani's cross is diverted onto his own post by the former Valencia man from inside his own six-yard box. Villarreal starting this half very brightly!
Some direct running down the left from Cheryshev causes uncharacteristic panic in the Barcelona defence. his low cross is sent towards Dos Santos in the middle but the Mexican can't quite get their and Bravo gathers the ball.
No changes for either side at the break. Villarreal get us back up and running and they try to set Dos Santos in behind early on, but the Mexican is flagged offside.
The sides are back out and we are ready to get back underway in the second half!
STAT ATTACK: Villarreal are well placed to nick their first victory in 11 attempts over Barcelona this evening you have to go back to the 2007/08 season to find the last time The Yellow Submarines inflicted defeat on the Catalan side.
HALF TIME: VILLARREAL 0-0 BARCELONA. It hasn't been the most exciting affair so far, a far cry from the 3-2 thriller played out by these two sides last season. Messi has come closes to picking the deadlock with a clever free kick that rebounded off the post, but a midfield battle between the sides has seen this one descend into a scrappy affair.
No added time at the end of the half and that will do us!
Just two minutes left of normal time in what has been a niggling first half at El Madrigal. The chances have grown fewer and far between as the teams continue to get embroiled in a much more physical battle.
Yellow Card Daniel Alves
Danie Alves is down on the Villarreal byline after taking a fair whack from Costa. He isn't happy about it and has been booked for his protests too as he shows the referee his battle scars.
A promising move down the left for Villarreal comes to an end as Denis Cheryshev miscues his shot well wide of the target. At the other end, Munir rises to meet Messi's cross but can't divert it goalwards.
Yellow Card Pedro
Barcelona are targeting this right-hand flank and Alves swings in another low cross that has to be put behind for a corner. Villarreal threaten to break on the counterattack, but Pedro hauls Dos Santos and is booked for the foul.
Alves and Pedro try to combine to unlock the Villarreal defence but the best they can win is a corner. The set piece finds its way to the back stick, where Mathieu sends a rasping shot high and wide of Asenjo's goal.
Some decent pressing from Villarreal force Barcelona to resort to long ball tactics. It wins the visitors a corner though as a glancing header from Costa sends the ball behind. The yellow wall stands firm at the set piece though as they clear yet again.
Messi just beginning to pull the strings now for the visitors. A trademark darting run draws three Villarreal defenders out of position and his lofted ball in behind finds Rafinha. The Brazilian is stretching though and can't make decent contact, allowing the home side to clear his weak cutback.
POST!!! What a clever effort this is from Messi. He curves the ball low round the wall, aimed towards Asenjo's near post. The keeper is getting nowhere near it and can only watch on as it rattles the woodwork and bounces back into play.
Cani gives away a dangerous free kick on the edge of the Villarreal box after clipping Dani Alves. Barcelona try to take it quickly and make a hash of it. Luckily for them the referee has called play back.
Big penalty claims from Barcelona but they've fallen on deaf ears at El Madrigal. Pedro jinks inside Mario inside the Villarreal area and goes to ground under clear contact from the defender, bu the referee waves play on.
What a chance for Villarreal! A corner is worked short to the front post and when the ball comes back out to Dos Santos, his cross evades everyone before finding Ruiz at the back post, but the defender can't get the right contact on the ball he spoons the ball over the bar with his knee!
Rakitic is treading a thin line as he commits another foul in the centre of the park. He can't be far from a booking now . A rare foray into the opposition half for Villarreal this. Can they make anything of it?
Dani Alves finds a bit of space down the right and has plenty of time to pick out a Blaugrana shirt in the middle, but his cross is woefully overhit and goes out of play on the far side for a goal kick. Wasted.
Villarreal have dropped deeper as the first half has worn on here. Sergio Busquets is mopping up any loose ball when the hosts do manage to stick a foot in and the El Madrigal crowd is growing quieter by the minute as Barcelona begin to grab a stranglehold on this game.
No sooner have they relieved the pressure however, Asenjo is forced into a top stop! Messi is the man to be foiled once more as his curling effort searching for the far corner on the left-hand side is tipped behind for a corner.
Rakitic putting himself about in the middle of the park now and he is penalised for a foul after a challenge from behind. That will just allow Villarreal to relieve some of the pressure from the last few minutes.
Ivan Rakitic finds a bit of space on the edge of the area and decides to let rip, but the former Sevilla man sends his effort well over the bar. Villarreal are covering the space well so far in front of their own area.
No Xavi or Iniesta for Barcelona in their starting XI this evening and so far it has shown. Despite the opening minute, they don't look in a position to constantly dominate possession throughout this one - which should see the hosts grow in confidence.
It is threatening to open right up this one. Barcelona are committing forward in numbers and when they do, swarms of yellow jerseys are only too happy to flood the spaces left in behind. Still no clearcut chances as yet though.
Ruiz has certainly had a busy opening five minutes! Messi threatens to burst through on goal and the central defender has to be on his toes to get across and deliver an inch-perfect sliding tackle that dispossesses the Argentine as he shapes to pull the trigger.
Right from kick off Barcelona have taken the game to their hosts. Ruiz is forced to send a low cross behind for a corner from the first attack and when it is only half cleared, Messi tests the gloves of Asenjo with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Barcelona get us underway and immediately they embark on a sustained period of keep ball. Villarreal haven't touched it in the first minute here!
The sides are out at El Madrigal and we are about to get underway here!
El Madrigal is never an easy place to go but we should certainly be expecting goals tonight. The home side have only kept one cleansheet in their last eight home appearances. Last season's corresponding fixture was a 3-2 thriller, settled by a late Messi goal.
Iniesta doesn't make the squad for Barcelona due to knee problems, while youngsters Rafinha and Munir continue in the side following the win against Elche. Meanwhile Giovani Dos Santos lines up against his former club for Villarreal.
BARCELONA: Bravo, Dani Alves, Pique, Mathieu, Jordi Alba, Sergio, Rakitic, Rafinha, Pedro, Munir, Messi.
VILLARREAL: Asenjo, Mario, Musacchio, V. Ruiz, J. Costa, Pina, Bruno, Trigueros, Cani, Cheryshev, G. Dos Santos.
We are just 15 minutes away from kick off so let's get some team news. We'll start with the hosts, Villarreal.
Luis Enrique's side shot straight to the top of the table on the opening weekend as they saw of Elche 3-0 at Camp Nou. It wasn't all rainbows for the Catalan giants though as Javier Mascherano was sent off in the first half. Two goals from Messi however and another from Munir saw them record a comfortable home victory. Both goalscorers start again this evening.
Good evening and welcome to this evening's coverage of La Liga football. It was a dominant return to domestic action for Barcelona last weekend and they visit Villarreal as they look to keep up their early season form.
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