Best Odds: 19/4
In need of an immediate response on Tuesday night, Barcelona will welcome a resurgent Villarreal to the Nou Camp as they look to kickstart their campaign.
Starting with the hosts, coming off the back of yet another damning display in their 2-0 defeat away at Granada over the weekend, Barcelona have continued to show some glaring inconsistencies since opening the new La Liga campaign. Along with managing to just scrape a point off of Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener last week, the Spanish giants have won just two of their opening five domestic appearances and the pressure is really starting to mount on Head Coach Ernesto Valverde. With Lionel Messi yet to start for the defending champions after picking up an injury back in July while away with Argentina, Barcelona have already dropped points against Granada, Atletico Bilbao, and Osasuna. Despite their sluggish start, fans around the Nou Camp will take some solace from their continued success on home soil. Tuesday’s hosts have won each of their last nine La Liga matches in Catalonia and have not tasted top-flight defeat at the Nou Camp since the start of November.
Lionel Messi is almost certain to start after Barca’s poor start, and will join Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez in attack. Jordi Alba remains out of action with a hamstring problem, meaning Nelson Semedo will continue at left-back.
As for the visitors, while Villarreal may have spent the majority of last season in a battle to secure their La Liga status, the Yellows have really started to shine under new boss Javier Calleja. Coming off the back of another dominant display in their 2-0 win over Real Valladolid last weekend, they have secured back-to-back victories for the first time since the start of April and have lost just one of their opening five contests. Looking to pull off a remarkable turnaround and secure a European return for the Estadio de la Cerámica, it will be their newfound defensive resolve most impressing their new boss. Calleja’s men have recorded back-to-back clean sheets for just the second time in 2019. If Villarreal are to pick up their first victory over the defending champions since 2008, the Yellow Submarine will be looking for the red-hot Gerard Moreno to extend on his eye-catching start. Spearheading Villarreal’s recent revival, the 27-year-old already has five goals in his opening five appearances and has found the net in all bar one of his La Liga outings.
Midfielder Bruno Soriano and defender Alberto Moreno remain on the sidelines through injury, but Calleja otherwise has a fully-fit squad to choose from.
Key Factors to Consider
- The last time the two sides met they played out a 4-4 draw.
- Barcelona have won just two of their opening five La Liga matches.
- Villarreal have won back-to-back matches for the first time since April.
- Gerard Moreno has five goals in his opening five matches.
- Barcelona have not lost a match against Villarreal since March 2008.
While Barcelona might enter Tuesday’s contest as a huge favorite, they appear someway off the side that marched towards the La Liga title last season. Winning just two of their opening six matches across all formats and showing some glaring defensive issues, the defending champions could be in for a long night in midweek. With the two sides playing out a stunning 4-4 draw when they met back in April, we’re backing a resurgent Yellow Submarine to leave Catalonia with a point intact on Tuesday night.
Best Odds: 19/4
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