What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Villarreal vs Barcelona
When: Saturday 28th January, 2012, at 21:00 UK time
Where: El Madrigal, Valencia, Spain

Tough Task

Preparing to welcome the best team in the world at the Madrigal stadium, Villarreal have the inconvenience of playing against a side that is naturally over the moon after two well-fought ninety minutes against Real Madrid. Any slip against Barcelona would surely cost the Yellow Submarine dearly.

And Villarreal understand that they have a difficult task ahead of them, though have confidence after picking up an all too rare three points against Sporting Gijon last week, according to midfielder Marcos Senna

“We play against a team that is harder to beat, but we look forward to it. We are more relaxed after having won on Monday [against Sporting Gijon] and have more confidence. Today Barcelona is the best team in the world and it is difficult to find a way to win”, concluded the former Spain international.

Flirting with the prospect of relegation after collecting just 19 points from 19 games, a good result versus Josep Guardiola’s team would provide the needed spark for Villarreal to jump-start their season. But considering the way things have been going for both sides lately, this remains easier said than done and the Yellow Submarine may have to torpedo easier prey.

The Better Side

Barcelona proved yet again that they were better than Real Madrid in midweek, capitalising on their opponents’ inability to convert chances at the Camp Nou to come out on top 4-3 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey.

Speaking after the game, Guardiola heavily praised his team’s spirit, admitting that his side overcame a worthy opponent: “Madrid only did what we would have done in their situation. The players showed great strength and I congratulate them. Madrid are a great team and therefore this merits our victory, Madrid played a good game, but we were the victors over the 180 minutes”, declared the Barca midfield legend.

Now, the reigning Spanish champions turn their attention to the league. Five points off the race’s pace, Guardiola will want to build momentum on his last league away win over Malaga in order to inspire his team to further away wins, with their record on the road being Los Cules’ weakest point so far. A great motivator, the Barcelona coach is the man to make it happen.

Recent form

Villarreal 2-2 Valencia (08/01; La Liga)
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Villarreal
(15/01; La Liga)
Villarreal 3-0 Sporting Gijon
(23/01; La Liga)

Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona
(18/01; Copa del Rey)
Malaga 1-4 Barcelona (22/01; La Liga)
Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid (25/01; Copa del Rey)

Key absences

Villarreal: Jose Catala; Giuseppe Rossi

Barcelona: Seydou Keita; Andreu Fontas; David Villa; Ibrahim Afellay; Andres Iniesta; Alexis Sanchez

Players to watch

Villarreal – Borja Valero: The midfield man will need to be the puppet master should his team hold any chance of overcoming the Champions League champions. Valero has held more responsibility in the wake of Italian talisman Giuseppe Rossi’s absence, and he will have to work very hard to help Villarreal avoid defeat.

Barcelona – Lionel Messi: The diminutive Argentinean might not have scored in the two-legged encounter against Real Madrid, but that is not to say that he was not influential in his team’s qualification for the semi-final. Messi will also want to improve his personal away record after scoring just two goals on the road so far.

Match Prediction

Barcelona are extremely difficult to beat even on an average day, let alone when approaching a game with sky high morale. Villarreal are struggling at the moment and will find it hard to keep up with the opposition, with Xavi and co. meticulously dictating play. Expect Guardiola’s men to run out comfortable 3-0 winners.


This La Liga clash between Villarreal and Barcelona is sure to be hard fought, with both sides needing the win. Where is your money going? Make sure you visit OLBG for tips and to compare the current odds and betting markets available at all the important bookmakers.

Read more: La Liga: Real Marid v Zaragoza Match Preview