A free-flowing match is expected when reigning Spanish Champions, Barcelona, welcome high-flying Villarreal to the Camp Nou on Saturday, December 13, 2013 (11:00 AM Pacific). Heading into the game, Barcelona are currently occupying the top spot in the league, while Villarreal are in the midst of a fairy tale season after their promotion to the Primera Division and are in 5th position.
Barcelona suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands Atheltic Bilbao a fortnight ago and manager Gerardo Martino will be desperate for a victory against Villarreal, with the Madrid clubs breathing down their neck.
It is a testament to Villarreal’s progression under Marcelino García Toral that the Yellow Submarines are heading to a venue as intimidating as the Nou Camp with a belief that they can cause an upset. Toral has done a magnificent job with the club following their promotion and have won many hearts along theway with their fearless and expansive brand of football. A defeat away to Barcelona would be by no means the end of the world for Villarreal, but one would not put Toral’s men from getting a good result at the Nou Camp beyond them.
Barcelona will still be without Lionel Messi and Victor Valdes, who are out with long-term injuries, while Dani Alves is short of fitness after suffering a calf problem and is unlikely to feature. Martino will also be without the services of Adriano who is suspended for the clash.
José Manuel Pinto will continue in goal for Valdes, while Neymar looks set to be deployed in attack after his scintillating performance against Celtic in midweek. Martin Montoya will continue at right-back while Jordi Alba looks set to return to the side in place of Adriano.
Carles Puyol could be available for the clash, but if he does not recover in time, youngster Marc Bartra looks set to start at the heart of defense, alongside Gerard Pique.
Villarreal will be without their two key players, Cani and Bruno Soriano, for the clash against Barcelona, as the duo will be missing due to injury and suspension respectively. The likes of Tomas Pina and Jeremy Perbet look set to replace Cani and Bruno in midfield.
Bojan Jokic could return to the starting lineup alongside the solid defense consisting Mario Gaspar Pérez Martínez, Mateo Musacchio and Gabriel Paulista. Former Barca striker Giovani Dos Santos will spearhead the attack alongside either Ikechukwu Uche or Jonathan.
FC Barcelona (Probable XI): Pinto; Montoya, Bartra, Piqué, Alba; Busquets, Fàbregas, Iniesta; Alexis, Neymar, Pedro
Villarreal (Probable XI): Sergio Asenjo; Gaspar Martinez, Musacchio, Gabriel Paulista, Bojan Jokic; Pina, Trigueros, Aquino, Perbet; Dos Santos, Jonathan Pereira
FC Barcelona: W L L W W
Villarreal: W D W D D
Barcelona vs Villarreal Prediction
Barcelona, at home, are favorites against any side in the world, and the thumping midweek victory over Celtic would have given the Blaugrana a much needed lift after the defeat against Bilbao. Barcelona will dominate possession, but breaking down the solid Villarreal side will be tough task, despite the riches of attacking talent in their ranks.
But, one cannot discount Villarreal’s chances, as they can hurt teams on the counter and especially with Barcelona’s defense weakened by injuries, the Yellow Submarines will fancy their chances. Barcelona should be able to register a victory but will certainly have to work hard for it. I predict the match will end in favor of the Blaugrana: Barcelona 3 – 1 Villarreal
Barcelona vs Villarreal Television
The Barcelona vs Villareal match will be televised on beIN Sport USA this Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM Pacific.
Barcelona vs Villarreal Highlights
Match goals and highlights will be uploaded soon after the match ends.