What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Barcelona vs Villarreal
When: Saturday 14th December, 2013, at 19:00 UK Time
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

Back On Track

Having suffered their first league defeat against Athletic Bilbao a fortnight ago, Barcelona will be hoping to continue with the good displays they exhibited against Cartagena and Celtic in the Copa del Rey and Champions League, respectively, with a win against Villarreal. Knowing that they hold a 100% record in front of their own fans at the Camp Nou, this will be another occasion for Gerardo Martino’s side to continue fighting for top spot in La Liga.

The win over Celtic cast aside any talk of crisis at the Camp Nou. Speaking after the game, forward Pedro claimed that his side are now on the correct path after their victory over the Scottish visitors: “We’re on the right track. The team is in good shape, physically fit, and ready to perform well in the games before Christmas", commented the Spanish international.

Barcelona will be boosted by their admirable home league record, as the Blaugrana have won their last 22 league home games, with their last upset at the Camp Nou being a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid on 7th October 2012. Furthermore, the Catalans rarely fail to find the back on the net in style, as they have scored at least two goals in 22 of their last 24 games at home in La Liga.

Season Surprise

Fifteen games into the new league season and Villarreal appear to have put their Segunda Division nightmare behind them. The Yellow Submarine are fifth in the league standings, a single point shy of fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao. With the Blaugrana suffering a recent league defeat, the team from Valencia could make it two in a row for the Spanish champions. In Catalonia however, that will be easier said than done.

Knowing this, Mateo Musacchio believes his side will be ready for Los Cules when they meet them, while highlighting his adversaries’ undeniable threat. “Villarreal are in good form and confident of being able to do something. You have to forget about the identity of our rivals. They have some players missing but have others that are suitable to play at the highest level. Villarreal should focus more on being concentrated and playing at a high level”, declared the defender.

This will certainly be required from Villarreal as they have recorded just one win in their last six trips to the Camp Nou. That was back in March 2008, as they ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of goals from Marcos Senna and Jon Dahl Tomasson.


Recent form

Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Barcelona (01/12; La Liga)
Cartagena 1-4 Barcelona (06/12; Copa del Rey)
Barcelona 6-1 Celtic (11/12; Champions League)

Levante 0-3 Villarreal (24/11; La Liga)
Villarreal 1-1 Malaga (29/11; La Liga)
Villarreal 2-2 Elche (06/12; Copa del Rey)

Key absences

Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Lionel Messi; Jonathan dos Santos; Ibrahim Afellay

Villarreal: Francisco Farinos; Bruno Soriano; Cani (doubt) 

Players to watch

Barcelona – Pedro: With Neymar scoring his first hat-trick for Barcelona against Celtic and Alexis Sanchez coming to life this season, Pedro has taken a back-seat as a consequence. A gifted forward, he can give his coach some selection problems with a good showing.

Villarreal – Giovani dos Santos: The Mexican returns to the club where he spent his formative years after generally disappointing spells in England, Turkey and Spain. His allegiance will lie with Villarreal on the night, but a great deal will be required from him to surprise his old club.

Match Prediction

Barcelona have found their rhythm again with two games in which they scored ten goals. In front of their own fans, they will have little trouble defeating Villarreal, even if the 2008 league runners-up are in good form. Barcelona 3-0 Villarreal.

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