Preview and Prediction
The 2019/2020 season might be over sooner than it should be for Barcelona. They have lost six points from maximum eighteen points since the restart compared to their archrival. Now being on the second separated by four points, their hope to defend the title will be fading if Lionel Messi and Co fail to win on the road this weekend. Unfortunately, such won’t be an easy task as Villareal have been outstanding since La Liga resumed.
Both teams’ previous matches
Javier Calleja’s men convincingly crushed Real Betis 2-0 in the midweek. Gerardo Moreno’s brace really helped them bump up to the top five in the standings approaching Sevilla. Their dominance here was simply incomparable to Betis whose form was lacklustre, especially after Nabil Fekir was sent off.
Blaugrana on the other hand, were unfortunate to only muster a 2-2 draw while hosting Atletico Madrid. At first, the lady luck seemed to be on their side as Diego Costa netted an own goal and his penalty was denied by Ter Stegen. Sadly, it had to be repeated and Saul Niguez did not waste the opportunity to equalise. At the second half, it was Barca’s turn to get a penalty and Messi’s panenka’s chip gave them another one goal lead. Yet, once again, Los Rojiblancos was given a penalty. Saul was really a nightmare in this game as his penalty shot was so powerful that it hit the back of the net despite Ter Stegen’s tap. It was in fact an ideal result but surely a disappointing one for Setien’s men in this title race.
Javier Calleja tends to deploy 4-2-3-1 with the transition to 4-3-3 formation or 4-4-2 as in the previous game. The former Valencia, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund man, Paco Alcacer is the main forward with the 33-year old Colombian Carlos Bacca as the back-up. Gerrard Moreno and Moi Gomez will be playing wide. The former one can be pushed forward as a targetman too and Santi Cazorla can be the playmaker. On the injury table, only Ramiro Funes Mori is the only one left.
Quique Setien did the right thing in modifying his formation to 4-3-1-2 in the midweek. Yet, instead of playing Riqui Piug as the playmaker behind Messi and Suarez, which he did fairly well, it should have been the Argentine captain’s ideal post for now. Puig can be supporting him in the midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal who is better at helping the defense line. The Messiah has lost his pace unlike five or six years ago. So, it would be wise not to expose him as a frontman or winger any longer. Those can be given to Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann who really needs more minutes on the pitch. Suarez and Martin Braithwaite can be prepared for the supersubs.
Players to watch
In Villareal, the Spanish international Gerrard Moreno is the key man with fifteen goals and four assists along with the former Arsenal playmaker Santi Cazorla with eight goals and assists each. Another figure to watch is the Fulham loanee Frank Zambo Anguissa.
The legendary Messi will still be the key figure to watch anywhere Barcelona goes. However, Setien should consider giving Ansu Fati more chance in the starting IX. He surely has the potential to share the spotlight with the Argentine.
Villareal vs Barcelona Prediction
The Yellow Submarines is another obstacle for El Barca in the title race which may end the Catalan side’s dream to chase Real Madrid. Considering their impressive form lately and Setien’s confusion to optimise the team’s potential, another draw is very likely to happen in Estadio La Ceramica.
The punters seem to have faith in Barcelona to steal three points here. They are backed to win at 1.72. Santi Cazorla and Co are only priced to win at 4.45, whereas the odds for draw result are at 4.00.