It’s simple for Barcelona – win this game or their chances of retaining their La Liga title will surely turn to dust. Villarreal are the opposition this weekend for Quique Setien’s side, who could find themselves seven points behind Real Madrid by the time they kick off on Sunday night.
Where and when: Estadio de la Ceramica – 5 July, kick-off 21:00
Where you can see Villarreal vs. Barcelona: Premier Sports
Last time: Antoine Griezmann and Arthur both struck inside the first 15 minutes as Barcelona beat Villarreal 2-1 at the Nou Camp back in September.
Villarreal v Barcelona Predictions and Preview
Barcelona have a wonderful record against Villarreal, and the Catalans need that to continue this weekend. Barca are unbeaten in their last 23 matches against the Yellow Submarine, winning 17, including five of the last six. However, last season’s corresponding fixture saw an astonishing 4-4 draw between the teams, with Barca scoring twice at the death to rescue a point.
That shows Villarreal are capable of putting in a performance against the defending champions, although there won’t be any raucous home supporters inside the Estadio de la Ceramica this weekend to cheer them on. And Barca won’t be able to call themselves champions much longer if they fail to beat them.
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Barcelona to win and BTTS
Barcelona to win 2-1
Messi to score first
Real Madrid could have a seven-point lead over Barcelona by the time this game in Castellon begins, should Los Blancos following up a victory over Getafe on Thursday with another three points against Athletic Bilbao in Sunday’s early kick-off. Even though Barca will have a game in hand, that could be a huge psychological blow for a team who look in disarray at the moment.
There are reports of discontent within the corridors of power at the Nou Camp, with Lionel Messi and other key players believed to be questioning the decisions of head coach Quique Setien. Indeed, Messi even appeared to ignore Setien’s assistant Eder Sarabia when the coach was trying to give him some instructions in last weekend’s draw with Celta Vigo.
Barca have drawn each of their last two matches 2-2, after twice being pegged back by Saul Niguez penalties against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night. The Catalans have only won three of their six matches since the restart, dropping six points by sharing the spoils on three occasions.
Villarreal, on the other hand, went into Wednesday’s game against Real Betis on the back of four wins from their first five matches back. They’ve shown defensive solidity by keeping clean sheets in all four of those wins, and are 21/5 to cause an upset by beating Barcelona on Sunday. The visitors are 5/7 to get their title defence back on track with a win, while the draw’s priced at 16/5.
One to watch for Villarreal: Gerard Moreno’s goals have fired Villarreal into the European places, while they’re still in with an outside chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. The forward has 15 goals in 32 appearances in league and cup this term, and is 15/2 to add to his tally by breaking the deadlock here.
One to watch for Barcelona: Usually when Barca seem to be heading towards a crisis, Messi steps up to the plate to prove his worth to the club, as well as demonstrating how much more important he is than any of his managers. The Argentine is 13/5 to do so once more by netting the opening goal on Sunday.
Long shot: This fixture produced an incredible 4-4 draw last season. This may seem highly unlikely considering all the circumstances surrounding this match, but the same scoreline this weekend is priced at a monstrous 250/1. A 2-2 draw could be a little more realistic at 13/1, considering that’s been the score in Barcelona’s last two games.