After the most tumultuous summer in recent memory for Barcelona, even by their standards, the Catalan giants can finally get back to their football as they welcome Villarreal to the Nou Camp on Sunday night. Barca head into their La Liga opener unbeaten in their last 24 matches against the Yellow Submarine, winning 18.
Where and when: Nou Camp – 27 September, kick-off 20:00
Where you can see Barcelona vs. Villarreal: Premier Sports
Last time: Gerard Moreno equalised for Villarreal after an early Pau Torres own goal put Barcelona ahead when the teams met at the Estadio de la Ceramica in July, but Barca proved too powerful as they went on to win 4-1.
Barcelona v Villarreal Predictions and Preview
Following one of the most incredible will-he-stay-or-will-he-go sagas we’ll ever see, Lionel Messi enters the new season as a Barcelona player. It’s been a stunning summer of unrest and controversy at the Nou Camp, but the players must concentrate on picking up their first points of the new season when they entertain Villarreal on Sunday night.
The Yellow Submarine are ahead of their hosts this weekend in terms of match fitness, having played two league games already this term. Unai Emery’s side opened their campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to newly-promoted Huesca, but put that behind them to beat Eibar 2-1 on Saturday.
Villarreal had to come from behind in that match though, meaning they’ve conceded first in both of their matches so far. The visitors surely can’t afford to do that again here if they’re to have any chance of an upset, although Barcelona’s defence is certainly under a lot of scrutiny following their last outing.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
Barcelona to win and BTTS
Barcelona to win 2-1
Messi to score first
The Blaugrana are in competitive action for the first time since their humiliating 8-2 capitulation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, which was followed by Messi’s active attempts to leave the club. Even though one of the finest players in the history of the game remains at the Nou Camp for the time being, things are far from perfect at Barca.
Presidential rancour, stalwarts like Luis Suarez on their way out of the club and attempting to bed in new manager Ronald Koeman with barely any money to spend – Barcelona are in turmoil after their European embarrassment and surrender to Real Madrid in last season’s La Liga title race. They can still field a team full of quality players though, including at long last new signing Miralem Pjanic.
Koeman has a number of injuries to worry about though, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Samuel Umtiti, Martin Braithwaite and Matheus Fernandes all either doubtful or definitely out. Opposite number Emery also has a number of issues, with Carlos Bacca and Raul Albiol both doubts. Alberto Moreno, Ramiro Guerra and Ruben Pena will all be missing too.
Even with a full complement of players, the away team would be huge underdogs for this game. The Yellow Submarine are available at 11/2 with William Hill to compound Barcelona’s misery with the win, but the hosts are the clear favourites at 4/9. A draw would hardly be an encouraging result for Barca, but given their lack of preparation, it could be on the cards at 19/5.
One to watch for Barcelona: All eyes will be on Lionel Messi in this game, as the world watches to see how he reacts to being denied his move away from Barca. The Argentine won the Pichichi Trophy as La Liga’s top scorer with 25 goals last season, and is 14/5 to open his account for the new campaign with the opening goal on Sunday.
One to watch for Villarreal: After scoring 18 league goals last term, Gerard Moreno has begun the new campaign with two in two. The Spanish forward is available at 17/2 to make it three in three by bagging the opener in these Barcelona vs Villarreal predictions.
Long shot: Barcelona have scored four or more goals in four of their last seven matches against Villarreal. They may be going through a testing time, but the Catalans remain capable of blowing away most teams in La Liga. They are 18/1 to put their worries to one side in sinking the Yellow Submarine 4-1 for the second time in a row, rising to 63/1 with Messi scoring first.