Barcelona will look to get back to winning ways in the La Liga when they travel to the Estadio de la Ceramica to face Villarreal CF.
The Blaugrana are coming off a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sporting CP in the Champions League. They sit at the top of the table with a 5 point lead over second placed Valencia. They drew their previous two games against Celta Vigo and Valencia, and will surely be looking for their first Liga victory of the month.
Villarreal on the other hand, are placed 6th on the table, with 21 points to their name. They are coming off a narrow 0-1 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Europa League. They’ve finished at the top of Group A, securing qualifications to the knockout rounds.
Team News & Tactics
Javier Calleja is expected to make a number of changes to the side that started in their 0:1 loss against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday. The Spaniard also has a number of injuries in his squad, and some personnel whose participation remains doubtful for this tie.
Andres Fernandez, Denis Cheryshev and Nicola Sansone aren’t expected to feature due to injury while Ruben Semedo and Samu Castillejo are doubtful. Carlos Bacca and and Bruno Soriano though, are expected to return to the squad and make themselves available for selection.
Mariano Barbosa is expected to come back in between the sticks for Villarreal and a complete overhaul of the defence is expected, with Mario Gaspar, Alvaro Gonzalez, Victor Ruiz, Jaume Costa replacing Antonio Rukavina, Genis Montolio, Pau Torres and Adrian Marin.
In midfield, Ramiro Guerra and Chuca are expected to make way for Manu Trigueros and Rodrigo Hernandez, who will join Bruno Soriano in a 3-man midfield. Pablo Fornals is expected to come into a more central attacking role and play in behind Cedric Bakambu and Carlos Bacca.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Mariano Barbosa; Mario Gaspar, Alvaro Gonzalez, Victor Ruiz, Jaume Costa; Bruno Soriano, Rodrigo Hernandez, Manu Trigueros, Pablo Fornals, Carlos Bacca, Cedric Bakambu
Ernesto Valverde is still expected to remain without the services of Javier Mascherano, Rafinha, Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti, Arda Turan and Andres Iniesta. Having rested a number of key players for their 2-0 win over Sporting CP a few days ago, we will likely see a lot of them brought back into the squad for this tie.
Ter Stegen will likely come back in goal while Nelson Semedo, Thomas Vermaelen and Gerard Pique are all expected to hold on to their places in defence and will likely be joined by Jordi Alba at left back. Ivan Rakitic and Deni Suarez are expected to move wider on the right and left of midfield.
Paulinho and Sergio Busquets will likely come back into the center of midfield, sacrificing Andre Gomes in the process and Luis Suarez, who started during midweek is expected to be joined by Lionel Messi.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Marc Andre Ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Thomas Vermaelen, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Paulinho, Denis Suarez; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez
- Barcelona are undefeated in their last 21 La Liga matches.
- Villarreal have failed defeat Barcelona in their last 18 matches in all competitions.
- Barcelona have scored a minimum of 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 matches against Villarreal in all competitions.
- Barcelona have won only 6 of their last 12 matches against Villarreal away from home, drawing 4 and losing 2.
- In 12 matches against Villarreal CF, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored 12 and assisted 6 goals in all competitions.
Player To Watch
The Spaniard had a superb game against Sporting CP in midweek, setting up both goals in their 2-0 victory. He is expected to be given another shot to impress at the Estadio de La Ceramica. It has been a difficult season for Suarez and he’s made only 6 starts, but in that time he has still managed an admirable tally of 3 goals and 6 assists.
Villarreal CF 0-3 Barcelona
We predict a comfortable victory for the Catalan giants. Javier Calleja’s men haven’t been in the best form off late and Barcelona, despite their injuries have far too much quality within their ranks to not come away with a comfortable victory.
They have dropped points for two weeks in a row and despite that, they have a 5 point lead the top of the table. Dropping any more points would put them in a difficult situation, and they will be a desperate to get back to winning ways to hold on to their lead at the summit of the table.