Blaugrana is one of the last three remaining in the European Super League, which eventually was a fiasco. This could be an interesting boost for other teams, including Villareal this weekend. They will be playing host to the Catalan side and aim to secure three points here as they are still stranded on the seventh. Unfortunately, Lionel Messi and Co would not be easily distracted by the ESL issue. A maximum point is necessary to keep them in a title race.
Both teams’ previous games
The Yellow Submarines suffered an unlikely defeat from Alaves in the midweek. Gerrard Moreno and Co were beaten 1-2 through the goals of Joselu and Edgard Mendez. They only responded once by the former Dortmund man, Paco Alacer. It is their seventh losses of the season.
Barcelona, on the other hand, clinched a 5-2 victory against Getafe at their home turf. Messi’s brace, Sofian Chakia’s own goal, Ronald Araujo’s header and Antoine Griezmann’s penalty gave them the crucial three points. They only conceded twice through Clement Lenglet’s own goal and Enes Unal’s penalty.
Unai Emery seems to be switching back to his old formation deployed earlier this season, 4-4-2. Gerard Moreno and Paco Alacer are the best option for the duo frontman, while on both wings, the Nigerian youngster Samuel Chukwueze and Moi Gomez will get the nod for playing wide. Only two names are on the sideline here, Victor Iborra and Pervis Estupinan.
His counterpart, Ronald Koeman is sticking to his 3-5-2 formation with Messi and Griezmann are upfront. Ansu Fati who is already in recovery could be brought on at the second half. He and Trincao are the only options left on the attacking side as Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite are ruled out along with Coutinho, Moussa Wague and Neto.
Players to watch
Villareal’s top scorer, Gerrard Moreno, is indispensable with 20 goals and five assists so far. Some other key figures to watch are the former Valencia captain, Dani Parejo who has notched up three goals and assists each and the top assists provider, Manu Trigueros with one goal and six assists.
In Blaugrana, besides the megastar Messi who has netted 25 goals and nine assists this season in La Liga, there are the Dutchman Frenkie de Jong, the wing back Jordi Alba whose form has been improving compared to last season and their youngster, Pedri.
Villareal vs Barcelona Prediction
This encounter could turn into a thriller if both sides are playing offensively and attempting to score as many as possible. Unai Emery’s men, however, should build more solid defense to avoid conceding too many just like in the reverse fixture. Thus, a narrow win for Barcelona is still very likely.