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Villarreal vs Barcelona: Preview

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The Blaugrana travel to a historically tough place for a very difficult league game

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Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Following a successful, yet extremely boring Champions League group stage finale in midweek, Barcelona are back in action on Sunday night with what has become a really, really tough away match in La Liga over the last several years.

Barça travel to the Estadio de la Cerámica, formerly known as El Madrigal, to face Villarreal in a historically difficult game for the Blaugrana. The Catalans still lead the league but wins on Saturday for Valencia and Real Madrid have put tremendous pressure on Barça to win a game they don’t usually win and still have a healthy lead.

Villarreal are once again contending for Europe this season and despite two losses in a row in the league, this is still a very good team that can kill teams on the counter and has a very dangerous strike partnership in Carlos Bacca and Cédric Bakambu. This is a big challenge for Barça, and they need to show a lot more than what we’ve seen in recent weeks to get a much-needed win at a tough ground.


MATCH INFO, TV/STREAMING

Date/Time: Sunday, December 10, 2017, 8:45pm CET/WAT (Barcelona/Nigeria), 7:45pm GMT (UK), 2:45pm ET, 11:45am PT (USA), 1:15am IST (India, Monday)

Venue: Estadio de la Cerámica, Villa-real, Spain

Television: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Sky Sports Football (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India)

Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), SkyGO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)

(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)


TEAM NEWS

Andrés Iniesta did not recover in time for this one, so the captain misses another game due to a muscle injury. Gerard Deulofeu was left out of the squad for this one, which is a clear sign that Valverde has had enough of Deulo’s poor decision making and work rate.

Since this is an away game against a good team, we already know two things: (1) it’ll be a 4-4-2 formation designed to make the game boring and unwatchable, and (2) Nélson Semedo will not start at right-back with Sergi Roberto once again playing a position he can’t play. This is how Valverde rolls, and we just have to accept it until he decides to change, is forced to change or is forced to leave.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-4-2)

Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Vermaelen, Alba; Paulinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes; Messi, Suárez

Villarreal (4-3-1-2)

Asenjo; Mario, González, Ruiz, Costa; Trigueros, Rodri, Soriano; Fornals; Bacca, Bakambu


PREDICTION

It’s always, always, ALWAYS tough at Villarreal, and with this current Barça team it’ll be even tougher: 1-1 draw.