Lionel Messi and Barcelona will travel to Villarreal as the defending champions look to decrease gap with Real Madrid in La Liga table.
El Madrigal is one of the toughest grounds to play in the Spanish football. So, Barcelona should be at their brilliant best to claim all three points from this crucial game.
In their last game in the La Liga, Real Madrid won against Granada emphatically which puts even more pressure on Barca to win this crunch match vs. Villarreal.
Barcelona head into this game far from ideal situation as the Spanish champions lost their latest game in the Copa Del Rey against Athletic Bilbao. Barcelona was 2-0 down at one point in the match, but a brilliant Lionel Messi free-kick meant Barcelona left from Basque region win a vital away goal.
Aritz Aduriz celebrates after scoring goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona at San Mames Stadium. [Image by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images]
The game ended quite controversial as Barcelona had two penalty appeals turned down, which seemed, for many, clear penalties. Firstly, Neymar was brought down by an Athletic defender, and later Gerard Pique was fouled by the Bilbao goalkeeper in the 20-yard-box.
After the game, Pique lost his cool and claimed that Spanish referees tend to favor Real Madrid over Barcelona unfairly, as reported by the Independent.
Watch the full highlights of the controversial game game below.
Team News: Villarreal
For the Yellow Submarines, defender Mateo Musacchio is back fit after recovering from a hamstring injury and will play in at centre-back once again.
Victor Ruiz and Bruno have both recovered from foot problems recently, and the duo is in contention to start against Barca.
Meanwhile, Samu Castillejo is expected to return for Villarreal once again after recovering from his injury while Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato is set to start in attack in Cedric Bakambu’s absence.
Villarreal: Predicted Line-up (4-3-1-2)
Asenjo; Costa, Ruiz, Mario, Alvaro; Soriano, Bruno, dos Santos, Trigueros; Pato, Sansone
Team News: Barcelona
New signing Jasper Cillessen is the only player sidelined for Barca, with Jeremy Mathieu fit to play once again. Veteran defender Javier Mascherano is expected to play in the place of Samuel Umtiti at centre-back.
Young midfielders Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes will lock horns to be the third man in Barcelona’s central midfield after Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.
FC Barcelona line up for a team photo prior to the start a La Liga match. [Image by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images]
Barcelona: Predicted Line-up (4-4-1-1)
ter Stegen – Roberto, Mascherano, Pique, Alba – Iniesta, Denis Suarez, Busquets – Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Villarreal vs. Barcelona: Head-to-Head (La Liga)
Total games: 32
Villarreal wins: 8
Barcelona wins: 17
Villarreal vs. Barcelona: TV Schedule and Channel
In the U.S., the match will be live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A., beIN SPORTS en Espanol, fuboTV, and beIN SPORTS USA. For other regions, the TV schedule can be found in the link here.
Villarreal vs. Barcelona: Prediction
Barcelona will have to work their socks off in they are to win this game. Villarreal will give them all sorts of problems as they usually do at their ground, but we expect Barcelona to win with a narrow margin.
Final Predicted Score: Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona
Villarreal vs. Barcelona: Betting Tips and Odds
The odds were provided by Paddypower.
Key Stats to consider
- Barcelona has come out on top in nine of their last 11 away games (La Liga).
- Barcelona is unbeaten in their last 16 games against Villarreal in all competitions.
- Villarreal has been winning at both half time and full time in five of their last seven home games in the league.
- Barcelona has netted two or more goals in their last five matches against Villarreal in all competitions.
- Villarreal has netted at least two goals in six of their last seven home games (La Liga).
The Villarreal vs. Barcelona stats were provided by Soccerway.
Villarreal vs. Barcelona: Live Stream
The match can be streamed live online by clicking at this link. The link will be updated just before kick-off.
[Featured Image by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images]