As they prepare to host Villarreal at Camp Nou on Thursday, Barcelona will be eager to get back on track after suffering a disheartening loss in El Clasico over the weekend.
At the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, the hosts were defeated by their fierce rivals by a score of 3-1, while the guests defeated Osasuna by a score of 2-0 to achieve a much-needed victory.
Our Match Preview: Barcelona vs Villarreal
Since their opening day draws with Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona had been unbeatable in LaLiga, winning seven straight games by a combined score of 20-1 until their loss on Sunday.
Xavi’s side is in first place in the league, tied on points with their fierce opponents heading into the 250th edition of the historic event, thanks in large part to their dominating domestic play.
On Sunday, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema scored the first goal for Los Blancos against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu. It was the first goal surrendered by the Catalan team in 624 LaLiga minutes.
Los Blancos added a second goal only 23 minutes later, putting the game out of reach. Even though Ferran Torres scored a second-half equalizer, the Blaugrana were unable to rescue a point due to an exceptionally dull offensive effort by Robert Lewandowski.
Rodrygo Goes scored an injury-time penalty to seal the game. The hosts mustn’t lose their composure after a disappointing 3-3 draw with Inter Milan in the Champions League.
Since they have a few possible banana-skin league games before an all-or-nothing confrontation with Bayern Munich. Real Madrid is ruthless in LaLiga, and any slip in focus might lead to elimination from European competition.
The away team, meanwhile, will be looking to build off of Monday’s promising 2-0 victory against Osasuna, in which Arnaut Danjuma scored his first league goal of the season with a well-taken brace.
After a hot start to the season, Unai Emery’s squad hit a rough patch that saw them drop out of the top four and into the Europa League relegation zone after a string of lackluster results, including losses to Real Betis and Real Sociedad and draws with Cadiz and Getafe.
Nonetheless, the Castellon club looked like themselves again after advancing to the UEFA Conference League knockout rounds with a victory over the weekend, with Alex Baena continuing to shine in the absence of talismanic forward Gerard Moreno.
Last year, Villarreal beat Xavi’s Barcelona team 2-0 at Camp Nou for the first time in 27 tries. However, with more on the line this time around, the home team should prove to be a much tougher opponent.
Our Team News: Barcelona vs Villarreal
Barcelona will go on without Ronald Araujo, Memphis Depay, and Andreas Christensen, all of whom are sidelined for the foreseeable future, and Xavi will have some tough decisions to make in terms of his starting lineup after their performance in the Clasico.
There seems to be the greatest threat to starting spots for Ousmane Dembele and Eric Garcia, with Ansu Fati and Gerard Pique waiting in the wings.
Alberto Moreno, who had been out for seven months, made an emotional comeback to activity on Monday and will be available off the bench against Camp Nou. On the other hand, Gerard Moreno, Francis Coquelin, and Juan Foyth are still on the bench.
Despite scoring six goals and assisting
on three others in European play, Unai Emery has been hesitant to use Jose Luis Morales in the league. If El Comandante continues to contribute well off the bench in the next match against Osasuna, he may earn a starting spot.
- Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen, Alba, Pique, Kounde, Roberto, Pedri, Busquets, Gavi, Fati, Lewandowski, Torres.
- Villarreal possible starting lineup: Rulli, Pedraza, Torres, Albiol, Femenia, Parejo, Capoue, Lo Celso, Morales, Danjuma, Baena.
Our Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal
In the weeks after their Clasico loss, Barcelona can’t afford to lose any ground to Real Madrid.
Despite Villarreal’s best efforts, the home team should only manage a narrow victory.