Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prediction: Villarreal vs Barcelona

Verdict: Villarreal not to lose

Best Odds: 8/5

Bookmaker: bet365

High-flying Villarreal will have to give their best to try and remain in Champions League positions as they play host to mighty Barcelona, who are hurting after the Copa del Rey loss to Athletic Bilbao. The Catalans cannot really afford any more slip-ups if they want to defend the La Liga trophy and there are no doubts they will be under tremendous pressure at El Madrigal.

Villarreal

The one season spent in Segunda clearly had no effect on Villarreal’s long-term success as the Yellow Submarine were able to instantly return to where they belong, challenging for Champions League positions. Fran Escriba’s side did really well to finish the first part of the league campaign in fourth place, but they clearly cannot afford to relax with the likes of Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Club breathing down their necks. It is now evident that the club officials were spot on with summer signings considering that Nicola Sansone, Alexandre Pato and Roberto Soriano have largely impressed upon arriving at El Madrigal. Despite lacking strength in depth, Villarreal managed to remain in three major competitions, although they are on the verge of Copa del Rey elimination after the 3-1 loss to top 4 rivals Real Sociedad. The Yellow Submarine will face AS Roma in the Europa League knockout stages, but now is time to focus on the league campaign and the high-profile clash against Barcelona. Villarreal ended a seven-match losing run in meetings with the Catalans as they played out a 2-2 draw back in March, coming from two goals down, and they probably wouldn’t mind another share of spoils.

Team News

Captain Bruno Soriano and defender Victor Ruiz missed the Real Sociedad game through ankle problems and they remain doubtful.

Meanwhile, Roberto Soldado (knee), Denis Cheryshev (thigh) and Cedric Bakambu (international duty) are unavailable for selection. Samu Castillejo and Daniele Bonera are back in contention.

Barcelona

It’s been a while since Barcelona last trailed arch rivals Real Madrid in the La Liga standings, and while there is still a long way to go, a three-point gap is definitely a problem, especially considering that los Blancos have a game in hand. The Catalans were somewhat unfortunate not to defeat the Madrid side in El Clasico, conceding a last-minute equaliser, but they have also failed to impress in some other games. The game against in-form Villarreal definitely comes at a bad time, mere three days after the incredibly difficult match against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames, where most star footballers played full 90 minutes. And considering that the likes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez had only recently returned from a two-week break, they will probably not be in the best of shapes at El Madrigal. The 2-1 defeat at Camp Nou will serve as another blow to the players’ confidence, with the Catalans failing to score with extra two men on the pitch, meaning that coach Luis Enrique will have to find a way to ensure his players give their very best on Sunday evening. Barcelona have failed to impress on the road of late, winning just one of last four away matches, and that is another cause for concern ahead of the trip to Castellon.

Team News

Luis Enrique is unlikely to make too many changes to the side that played at San Mames, although Arda Turan and Javier Mascherano could start.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Barcelona won 7 of last 8 meetings with Villarreal
  • Four or more goals were scored in three of their last four meetings at El Madrigal
  • The Catalans have one win in last four away games (D2 L1)
  • Messi and Suarez have each scored 12 league goals this term
  • Villarreal won six of last seven home games (L1)

Conclusion

Villarreal have been pretty impressive at their El Madrigal, bagging 17 goals in 8 games, and we are backing them to make life difficult for the Catalans. Barcelona are going through a rough patch at the moment, and we don’t think they will be able to give their best mere three days after the difficult clash against Athletic Club.

Verdict: Villarreal not to lose

Best Odds: 8/5

Bookmaker: bet365

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