One of the theories revolving the issue of David Villa not featuring too much in the Barcelona lineup has to do with some earlier moments this season, when Villa and Lionel Messi seemed to be having some tense moments together on the field. Fast forward a few months, and you realize that when everyone scores, everything looks quite happy.
This wasn’t the kind of comeback season Villa envisioned; after missing six months in 2011-2012, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy finding his place back in the Barcelona lineup, with both Pedro and Alexis Sanchez often competing for a place next to Messi, not to mentions Cristian Tello off the bench or simply choosing to play with Fabregas or Iniesta as one of the forwards. But Villa had a fine start, with goals and assists, not to mention wins. Something early on went wrong.
Maybe it was his short rise back to where he was, followed by matches without contributing too much. Maybe it was actually a few shouting matches with Lionel Messi on the pitch that led to his benching. Maybe there’s more to see beyond the good little boy act Messi always has on, actually looking a bit edgier and meaner this season.
In a noon match, with the sun shining on the Camp Nou, things look better and brighter. David Villa didn’t have to be great, just good. Barcelona swept the field, winning 6-1, up by two goals after only 13 minutes. Lionel Messi didn’t prepare something special, like many expected, as a reaction to Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat trick less than 24 hours earlier, but obviously got on the score-sheet (13th consecutive time) while David Villa provided an excellent option for him on the left, scoring his first league goal since early November.
David Villa was one of the hottest names during the January transfer window, mostly linked with a move to Arsenal. According to rumors, the 31 year old striker tried pushing for a move; he isn’t one to be part of a rotation. He wants to play, he wants to be needed. Barcelona declared when the whole rumor mill began that no one as important as Villa will be leaving, especially not during January, with securing a league title and the Champions League still to think of.
Andres Iniesta was probably the only one who could put Alexis on the scoreboard, with his first league goal of the season, finally not making a mess of things in the box. Iniesta sent one of the best assists anyone has seen this season and Alexis, cutting from behind and creating an angle to the left, finally made the right choice with a smart chip and goal. One thing Alexis does better than Pedro is cut to the middle and provide a striker’s option. Him suddenly finding his form (hopefully), with the Champions League play about to resume, is just as important as keeping David Villa relatively fresh and in match fitness.
The league is pretty much over, but it’s not like Barcelona don’t have some scoring record to worry about, or keep their run, with only one loss and two draws thus far, as impressive as it is right now. When you’re this ambitious, you find a challenge in everything.