Villarreal CF (17th, 29pts) vs FC Barcelona (1st, 69pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Monday
Competition/Round: 2018-19 La Liga, Matchday 30
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ousmane Dembélé, Jasper Cillessen, Rafinha, Jean-Clair Todibo, Jeison Murillo (out)
Villarreal Outs & Doubts: Bruno Soriano, Manu Trigueros, Miguelón, Javi Fuego (out), Gerard Moreno, Jaume Costa (doubt)
Date/Time: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019, 9.30pm CET (Barcelona), 8.30pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3.30pm ET, 12.30pm PT (USA), 1am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Estadio de la Cerámica, Villareal, Spain
Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández (OH BOY BOY)
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Eleven Sports 1, ITV 4 (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), Movistar Partidazo (Spain), others
How to stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), ITV Hub (UK), Movistar+ (Spain), others
Following a tough victory in the Catalan Derby against Espanyol at the weekend, Barcelona are back in action with what promises to be a tough game on the road when they face Villarreal at what will always be El Madrigal. I don’t care if the pottery mafia runs the city and sponsors the stadium now, the Villarreal stadium is El Madrigal for the rest of time.
Now that we’ve established the most important thing about Tuesday’s game, let’s talk football: Villarreal are just one point above the relegation zone and are in real danger of going down, which is still hard to understand when you look at how good their squad is. They just haven’t been able to play well all season long apart from a nice run in the Europa League, and they’ve definitely reached desperation mode right now.
They need something against Barça, and the good news for them is they’ve always made things tough for Barça at the Madrigal regardless of the table. The atmosphere is different, the players try a little harder and this time they could earn real momentum by getting a point (or three) against the virtual champions. They’re talented enough to do it, and El Madrigal has always been tough for Barça.
Do not look at the table for this one: Villarreal have good players and their good players always become better against Barça. This will be extremely difficult, and Barça may have their eye at the bigger games against Atlético Madrid and Manchester United coming in the next seven days, which may reflect on Ernesto Valverde’s team selection that might send Lionel Messi to the bench. If you’re a Barça fan, I’m sure you agree: this one screams Trap Game. Really loud.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Roberto; Vidal, Busquets, Arthur; Malcom, Suárez, Coutinho
Villarreal (3-5-2): Asenjo; Álvaro, Funes Mori, Ruiz; Mario, Iborra, Cáseres, Cazorla, Pedraza; Ekambi, Bacca
I’m really not very optimistic for this one. The Atlético and United games are much bigger and this team loves to pick its spots, plus a point at the Madrigal is never bad: 2-2 draw.