|Villarreal vs Barça Match Preview | Image: FCB|
Christmas is over, the entire holiday is over, now the team is back to business and it’s the most important phase of the season. FC Barcelona travel to the City of Valencia to take on familiar rivals Villarreal in their 17th game of the 2016/2017 La Liga season at El Madrigal.
After Real Madrid comfortably saw off Granada 5-0, Barcelona are in a must-win situation as a loss will see them go 6 points behind Los Blancos in the race for the title which could become 9 if the leaders win their game in hand.
Barça have had good results against the Yellow Submarines recently but their recent visit to El Madrigal ended in a tragedy as they threw away a 2-goal lead to play a 2-2 draw, a game in which current player Denis Suárez pulled off a great performance against his parent club.
Despite Barça’s 10-game unbeaten run coming to an end after the loss at San Mamés, the Catalán giants come into the game in good faith knowing they will be up against a team who also lost their Copa game after Fran Escribá’s men were humbled 3-1 by Real Sociedad.
Fortunately for Barcelona, the only player that is ruled out of this game through injury is second goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen who normally was unlikely to start if he was fit, he’ll be replaced on the bench by Jordi Masip. Defender Jeremy Mathieu received the medical greenlight already but it’s uncertain if he’ll make the squad for the game as he may not be match fit for such a delicate encounter.
The hosts have better news to celebrate with as they have no major injury concern. In-form striker Pato is fit for the tie while Víctor Ruiz is also set to feature and crucial midfielder Bruno Soriano too.
VILLARREAL VS BARCELONA
Date: Sunday, 8 January, 2017
Time: 8:45pm CET
Venue: El Madrigal, Valencia
Referee: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
Villarreal 2-2 Barcelona
Barcelona 3-0 Villarreal
Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona
Barcelona 3-1 Villarreal
Barcelona 3-2 Villarreal
Villarreal 0-1 Barcelona
A MATCH FACT:
Barça are unbeaten in their last 16 games against Villarreal in all competitions, registering 12 wins and 4 draws, their last defeat against the Yellow Submarines came in a 2-1 loss at Camp Nou in 2008.
Predicted Villarreal Lineup: Sergio Asenjo; Mario Gasper, Víctor Ruiz, Mateo Musacchio, Jaume Costa; Jonathan dos Santos, Manu Trigueros, Bruno Soriano, Roberto Soriano; Nicola Sansone, Pato
Predicted Barcelona Lineup: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Denis Suárez, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta; Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Neymar
BarcaLens Prediction: It will be a very tough game and a bit unpredictable due to Barça’s inconsistency of recent. Neymar will be up against a favourite opponent, Lucho always gets the best against Escribá, a slim Barça win – Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona