• Analysis

Match Preview: Barcelona vs Villarreal

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Spanish top-flight football continues midweek after an exciting fifth round over the weekend, which saw Athletic Bilbao taking over the top spot on the table.

Reigning champions Barcelona will welcome Villarreal to the Camp Nou Stadium tomorrow evening, looking to forget the surprising defeat at Granada last Saturday.

It was the Catalans’ second in the 2019-20 campaign, as they sit in eighth place with only seven points from the opening five La Liga fixtures.

Villarreal will visit Camp Nou with a one-point advantage over Barcelona, having collected eight points in the Spanish Championship so far.

The Yellow Submarine opened the season with two draws and a defeat in the first three games, but two back-to-back wins followed after the international break – 3-0 in Leganes 10 days ago and a 2-0 victory over Valladolid in the previous round.

Team news

Lionel Messi is expected to make his first start in the new season, after coming on at half time in the 2-0 loss to Granada two days ago.

French winger Ousmane Dembele could also make his return for the Catalans, while left-back Jordi Alba remains sidelined after suffering a hamstring injury in the Champions League opener versus Dortmund.

Left-back Alberto Moreno and midfielder Bruno Soriano will miss Villarreal’s trip to Catalunya’s capital, both of them through injuries.

Other than that, the visitors’ head coach Javi Calleja has a fully fit squad to chose from for the encounter with the champions.

Talk to the press

Ernesto Valverde accepted the blame for Barcelona’s poor form after the defeat at Granada over the last weekend.

“I feel responsible for what has happened. You can lose but when you lose you have to deserve to win – and today we have not deserved it,” he said at a post-game interview.

“Away from home, we are not reaping good results. When it happens in four games it is already a symptom that we are not too well.

“Today we have not been well. Away from home, we are not playing good games. We are dominating but we do not translate it into goal situations. It is also true that the opponent is scoring the first goal.”

Stats

The most recent meeting between both sides ended in a 4-4 draw, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez netting in the injury time to save a point for Barcelona.

At home, the Catalans have won each one of their last nine encounters with Villarreal across all competition.

Villarreal’s last success against Barcelona dates back to March 2008, when Denmark international Jon Dahl Tomasson scored a late winner to give them a 2-1 win at Camp Nou.

The Yellow Submarine finished in second and above the Catalans in the 2007-08 campaign – it is the last time they’ve managed to complete such an achievement.

Barcelona is yet to keep a clean sheet in the 2019-20 campaign. On the other hand, they failed to score in two out of their five games this season.

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