Villarreal were expected to put up a fight on Monday night at the Camp Nou. They weren't expected to win, of course. It's Barcelona at the Camp Nou. But with Villarreal's strong squad and Barcelona missing Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Daniel Alves, the tandem of Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar was supposed to put the Blaugranas under some pressure.
Guardiola align their players with a 3-4-3 formation. Barcelona played a back three with no true central defenders, and yet, Villarreal was able to do no such thing. It took them until the 87th minute of the match to put a single shot on target. Nilmar and Rossi hardly touched the ball while Lionel Messi did what Lionel Messi does, turning in a brilliant man of the match performance as Barcelona coasted to a 5-0 victory.
The newly-christened Argentine captain netted twice and provided an assist, and that doesn't count the dozen other chances he was involved in. Thiago Alcantara looked nothing like a 20-year-old as he scored a goal and provided an assist, while both Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez were able to net debut goals. Xavi and David Villa were used as substitutes. Barcelona looked better at football than just about anyone has ever looked with Xavi and David Villa on the bench.
Barcelona moves on to play...oh, who cares. If it's not Real Madrid, it'll just be the same thing all over again. And that's just fine.
Barcelona (5): Valdés; Mascherano, Sergio Busquets, Abidal; Keita, Thiago, Iniesta (Xavi, min.56), Fàbregas (Dos Santos, min.70); Alexis, Pedro (Villa, min.67) y Messi.
Villarreal (0): Diego López; Zapata, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Oriol; Marchena, Bruno, Borja Valero (Camuñas, min.50); Cani (Wakaso, min.64), Nilmar (Senna, min.61) y Rossi.
Goalscorers: Thiago (25' 1-0), Fàbregas (45' 2-0), Alexis (47' 3-0), Messi (51' 4-0), Messi (75' 5-0)