On Sunday night, The Yellow Submarine host The Blaugrana side at El Madrigal for Matchday 21 of LaLiga.
The Yellow Submarine have suffered a bit in the recent weeks after consecutive losses in LaLiga. Their recent outing against Elche was a disappointing one as Gerard Moreno’s early lead was cancelled out by Pere Milla’s hattrick to hand Quique Setien’s men a 3-1 loss. Also losing against fellow European contenders Rayo Vallecano by 1-0. They now find themselves at 6th in the table with 31 points from 20 games. With a tie against the Blaugranas up on the horizon, they have only won one of the their last 27 matches against Barcelona in the top flight (D6, L20), 2-0 in May 2022.
Barcelona are showing no signs of backing down and are now 8 points ahead of rivals Real Madrid in the race for the LaLiga. Seven consecutive wins in all competitions has been a major morale booster for Xavi’s men who are slowly edging towards domestic glory. They capitalized of a poor Sevilla side in the second half who were unable to retain the ball nor create any chances as goals from Alba, Raphinha and Gavi gave the Blaugranas a deserved 3-0 victory. A mammoth clash against Manchester United awaits the Blaugranas in Europa League but they will be looking to further cement their place at the top of the table before turning their heads to that fixture.
Sunday, 12-02-2023; 08:00 pm (GMT)
Monday, 13-02-2023; 01:30 am (IST)
Villarreal form (all competition): L-L-W-L-D
Barcelona form (all competition): W-W-W-W-W
Player to watch
Villarreal: Gerard Moreno
Positionally, Gerard is an intriguing mix between centre forward and inverted right winger, providing invaluable flexibility for his manager, Quique Setien, famously experimental with his formations. He has already scored 9 times and has 5 assists for the Yellow Submarine across all competitions this campaign.
Raphinha is an exceptionally effective passer. Because of his speed, he can blow past defenders into open space before passing. This makes his passes that much more dangerous. He has that ability to dribble and wriggle out of complex situations which is a menace for the opposition defenders. He has 4 goals and 4 assists in La Liga this campaign.
- Barcelona have collected points in each of their last 13 visits to El Madrigal in La Liga (W9, D4).
- Villarreal have lost their last two matches in La Liga, last losing three on the bounce in March 2020 under Javi Calleja.
- If Barcelona run out victors against Villarreal this Sunday, they will have won 8 straight matches across all competitions, a feat they last achieved in October 2017 (W9).
Injury and team news
An unchanged XI is highly expected by Quique Setien with the pairing of Chukwueze, Moreno and Pino starting up front for the Yellow Submarine. Centre-forward Nicolas Johnson has been missing since January due to a hip problem and will be missing out on this fixture. Francis Coquelin came off the bench against Elche to reignite the midfield for Villarreal but it was too late to pull off something spectacular. It wont be surprising if we see him start ahead of Baena in the starting XI.
Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Busquets will be unavailable to make the trip to El Madrigal with a hamstring and ankle injury respectively. Pedri and Gavi have been pulling the strings in the midfield while Raphinha and Lewandowski have been in the goals upfront. Their defence has looked rock solid with the pairing of Christensen and Araujo and it is very unlikely that Xavi will be shifting from this pairing.
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Villarreal predicted lineup (4-3-3):
Pepe Reina; Foyth, Albiol, Cuenca, Mojica; Capoue, Parejo, Baena; Chukwueze, Moreno, Y. Pino
Barcelona predicted lineup (4-3-3):
Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Alba; Pedri, Frenkie De Jong, Gavi; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Ferran Torres
Villarreal have struggled to find the back of the net in the recent weeks whereas the defence of Barcelona have been unforgiving. The Blaugranas have kept five clean sheets in their last 7 wins across all competitions and the record also favours them in this fixture. The league leaders are in bludgeoning form and it will take more than just a valiant performance by Setien’s men to create an upset and throw the league wide open again.
Prediction: Villarreal 0-2 Barcelona.
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