Barcelona era under Koeman off to a flying start

Culés could not have asked for a better start.

Villarreal, and Unai Emery, were certainly very accommodating opponents, but that shouldn’t take away from the quality on show. This was a continuation of a reasonable pre-season, and quickly saw the difference that Ronald Koeman has made on the first-team.

The way Barca pressed in the manner which they did across the 90 minutes and most successfully in the first 45 was a sight to cherish for fans of a club who have seen their team walk the matches for the past several seasons.

What a joy it was to see hungry players again going hunting for scraps. A willingness to get involved at every opportunity. Seeing Philippe Coutinho in his rightful position and looking totally transformed.

The 4-2-3-1, despite it not being a favored formation for Barca, worked well in the main.

Messi up top allowed more space to develop in behind, consequently ensuring that the blaugranas had Villarreal’s defence on the rack from the opening exchanges.

By committing so many defenders in and around Leo, it opened up passing channels with ease, and the room that Ansu had for his second goal was a great illustration of that.

We saw his fearlessness throughout that opening half, and defences are going to have to be on their guard against him more than they were last season as his development continues apace.

As his understanding with team-mates also matures, we should expect him to get better and better, and that’s a frightening thought.

Given the other attacking exponents at his disposal, and injuries aside, it does beg the question as to why the club might be considering bringing in Memphis Depay.

Perhaps it makes sense from the point of view of cover, but after the performance against the Yellow Submarine, Koeman certainly shouldn’t be looking at parachuting anyone else into the front four.

Defensively we looked a little shaky when pressed, which could be a concern, though perhaps the biggest worry on the night was how out of sync Sergio Busquets looked.

One game in is certainly not a time to be digging him out mind, although Miralem Pjanic looked a breath of fresh air when he replaced Busi. Trincao and Pedri were also promising in their cameos. There’s a long, long way to go but at least the Koeman era has got off on the best possible footing, and it’ll be interesting to see how, by this time next week, the team have fared away at Celta and then against a hard-working Sevilla.

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