Camp Nou, Barcelona
November 14th, 2010, 02:30 AM IST
In La Liga match-day 11, The Spanish Champions welcome Villarreal at the Camp Nou. The hosts are in fantastic form at the moment and Villarreal too are doing decently. The title contenders face each other with major depletions in their squads. The Catalans come into the match with a fabulous display of football against lowly Ceuta. Bojan ended his goal drought with an easy tap-in and Thiago Alcantara manifested that he has the potential to replace Barcelona’s ageing midfield star – Xavi.
Villarreal too had a decent outing against Club Polideportivo Ejido. A 2-0 victory against a Segunda División B side cannot exactly be called apt preparation to take on the defending champions, nonetheless, the El Submarino Amarillos are in high spirits. Barcelona hasn’t exactly been fabulous at home this season and the third best side in Spain would definitely like to capitalize on that.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The defending champions will have a depleted defensive unit for this game. Gerard Pique is serving a suspension and Gabriel Milito is out with yet another injury. The Argentine defender succumbed to a thigh injury this time. Carles Puyol is the only recognised defender at the heart of the Blaugrana fortress. Adriano too has made a quick recovery from gastroenteritis, but is still doubtful. Winger Jeffren is back with the first team after recovering from a back injury.
In contrast to the backline, the Blaugrana attack is intact. Lionel Messi is in scintillating form. David Villa too is back in business and now has 3 goals in the last 2 league matches. A fragile defense might not allow the hosts to attack as much as they’d want to, however the support of the home crowd might just turn out to be the sustaining factor. Guardiola may decide to switch full-back Eric Abidal to a central position to start alongside Puyol but Busquets is prepared to drop back into the defence for the good of the team. “My position is defensive midfield, but if I had to play as a central defender, I would,’‘ said the midfielder. Employing Busquets in defense would accommodate Javier Mascherano in the midfield. In one of their last training sessions, the first team was joined by four reserves which included defenders Bartra and Fontas. A surprise start for any of the youngsters cannot be ruled out either.
Probable Starting Line-up: Valdes (GK), Alves, Puyol, Bartra, Abidal, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro, Villa.
The Yellow Submarines are in good form this season. After a patchy opening day defeat to Real Sociedad, Juan Carlos Garrido’s men have responded in style. With an intact home record, and a dubious away record, the visitors would like to take advantage of Barcelona’s somewhat distraught home form. The absence of veteran Marcos Senna might just be the deciding factor for the visitors. Senna missed the last match too because of some hamstring problem. The Brazilian-Spanish midfielder should be replaced by Bruno Soriano. Argentine striker Marco Ruben is fit to be in the starting eleven.
Visitors usually have a tough time at the Camp Nou. Hercules and Mallorca proved otherwise. The former stunned the entire footballing fraternity with their 2-0 victory at the Camp Nou and even Michael Laudrup’s injury ravaged Mallorca avoided defeat. Garrido’s men can take a thing or two from these results and can even expect to grab all three points, especially when they have players like Nilmar and Rossi up-front. The Yellow Submarines would intend to take advantage of a fragile Barcelona defense. A victory at the Camp Nou would make Villarreal a more realistic candidate for the La Liga crown this season.
Probable Starting Line-up: Diego Lopez (GK), Angel, Mateo Musacchio, Marchena, Capdevilla, Soriano, Borja Valero, Santi Cazorla, Cani, Rossi, Nilmar.
1. Carles Puyol is all set to make his 500th appearance for FC Barcelona
2. Villarreal did not lose at the Camp Nou for three years now.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
The Brazilian has been in absolutely stunning form this season. On his day, he can very well break through any defense. Along with Guiseppe Rossi, the young Brazilian has forged a devastating partnership which can be menacing to any defense in Europe. Nilmar would surely like to add to his tally of 6 goals and overtake his team mate Rossi.
FC Barcelona 3-1 Villarreal
Despite the home team’s erratic home form, they are still a force to reckon. The Camp Nou faithful will make sure that they cover for the absence of Gerard Pique or Milito. Garrido’s men too haven’t exactly been clinical on the road. FC Barcelona with their devastating trio of Villa, Messi and Pedro, with Xavi and Iniesta orchestrating from behind. looks all set to grab all three points.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST