After earning a crucial 1-0 victory over Espanyol in his coaching debut at Barcelona, Xavi will be looking to build some momentum on Saturday when his side travel to Villarreal. Just like the Catalans, the Yellow Submarine have been struggling this term, but have lost only once at home so the hosts should give Barca a run for their money.
Where and when: Estadio de la Ceramica – 27 November, kick-off 20:00
Where you can see Villarreal vs. Barcelona: BT Sport
Last time: Antoine Griezmann’s brace cancelled out Samuel Chukwueze’s opener and gave Barcelona a 2-1 victory away to Villarreal in the last meeting between these teams, with Manu Trigueros seeing red in the second half.
Villarreal v Barcelona Predictions and Preview
Xavi’s coaching debut at Barcelona might not have been the most convincing one, but the 1-0 victory in the Derbi Barceloni against Espanyol can still be considered a solid start. While the result was crucial for the Catalan giants, who climbed up to seventh place in the La Liga table, there is still plenty to be improved performance-wise.
Memphis Depay scored the only goal from a penalty kick, which was enough for Barca to get their first league win since mid-October. This was the Blaugrana’s only victory in their last five games, but the Catalans are yet to win a game on the road.
Barcelona threw away a 3-0 lead away to Celta in what was their last road game and it also turned out to be Sergi Barjuan’s last game as a caretaker coach after Ronald Koeman’s dismissal. If the Catalans want to reduce the 10-point gap to La Liga leaders Real Madrid, Xavi must find a way to start winning away from the Nou Camp.
However, the legendary midfielder will have to do without several key players for the trip to Villarreal. Sergio Aguero was diagnosed with heart arrhythmia after he requested to come off in the first half against Alaves and is a undoubtedly the biggest blow, as according to reports the ex-Manchester City forward could even be about to announce his retirement from football.
Martin Braithwaite, Ansu Fati, Pedri and Sergi Roberto are all injured, while 38-year-old legendary full-back Dani Alves has returned to the club but might be unavailable here. Ousmane Dembele suffered another injury setback at the beginning of the month and is also a doubt.
Villarreal, meanwhile, have only lost one game at home all season – a 2-1 defeat against Osasuna in mid-October. The Yellow Submarine have only three La Liga victories since the start of the season and all three of them came at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Unai Emery’s side earned a narrow 1-0 win over Getafe in their last home game, while they drew 1-1 away to Celta in the last round of fixtures. This was Villarreal’s seventh draw of the campaign and the Yellow Submarine must start winning those kind of games if they want to climb up the table.
Villarreal currently sit 12th with 16 points, four points behind Barcelona and while Emery’s men are capable of getting a result against the Catalans, the Yellows are winless in 26 consecutive games against the Blaugrana. Villarreal’s last victory against Barcelona dates all the way back to 2007, when Santi Cazorla and Marco Senna were on target in a 3-1 victory.
Nevertheless, the hosts are 17/10 to get three points on Saturday. An eighth league draw for Villarreal certainly won’t be surprising and it can be backed at 12/5, while a second straight win for Xavi and Barcelona is available at 8/5.
One to watch for Villarreal: Arnaut Danjuma has been fantastic after his move from Bournemouth in the summer. The Dutch forward already has seven goals in all competitions and is 9/2 to break the deadlock against Barcelona.
One to watch for Barcelona: Memphis Depay has scored in each of Barcelona’s last three La Liga games, while two of those three strikes opened the scoring. The 27-year-old will be eager to increase his tally of seven strikes in the league and is 5/1 to score first on Saturday.
Long shot: Two of the last four meetings between these teams ended in 2-1 victories for Barcelona, including last season’s clash at the Estadio de la Ceramica. A repeat of that result can be backed at 9/1, while the odds rise to 289/1 if you add Villarreal/Barcelona to the selection in the half time/full time market.