Lionel Messi will get his well-deserved rest while Antoine Griezmann will return to the starting lineup when Barcelona take on Villarreal.
Barcelona will hope to return to winning ways after two 2-2 draws on the bounce when they make the trip to Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday to face off against Villareal, who are in stunning form since football resumed. We expect Quique Setien to make a bunch of changes from the game against Atletico Madrid.
Samuel Umtiti picked up a knee injury in training and is the new injury concern for Setien ahead of this fixture. Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong are out for the remainder of the league season and will not travel with the team. However, de Jong might be able to make a return in time for the Champions League resumption in August, while Dembele remains doubtful for the same.
Antoine Griezmann has clocked in no more than 20 minutes in the last two games, and naturally, Setien was asked to comment on his exclusion and how he has taken it in his pre-match press conference.
The Barcelona manager replied, “He is a great professional, he is a player who can understand this situation. He is an extraordinary kid, tremendously professional, and it will not affect him when he has to play again. He is very positive and we can count on him 100 per cent.”
His comments might be an indication that Griezmann is in contention to start against Villarreal, most likely in his preferred second-striker role. He will be partnered by Luis Suarez in attack as Barcelona structure themselves in a 4-3-1-2, just as they did against Atletico Madrid. Lionel Messi has played every single minute since the restart and could be benched to avoid injury and fatigue.
Setien spoke about Suarez’s inclusion as well, and his remark only serves us as reassurance about his starting spot on Sunday, saying, “I think he is a player who has to be on the field. He has given the club many goals and we have confidence in him. It is true that there are moments that we could give him rest, but it depends on the circumstances.”
In the diamond we will see Riqui Puig start his third game in a row after a man of the match display in midweek. Puig will be aided by Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Arthur Melo, who was left out completely last time out. The Brazilian has been announced as a Juventus player officially but will move to Italy after the Champions League ends.
Sergi Roberto will play on the right side of the Barcelona after returning from a rib injury earlier this week. Roberto’s inclusion will give Nelson Semedo the rest he needs after starting three consecutive games. Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba will all retain their spots in the starting lineup.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Puig, Griezmann, Suarez