Villarreal CF (12th, 16pts) vs FC Barcelona (7th, 20pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 15
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Pedri, Sergi Roberto, Martin Braithwaite, Sergio Agüero, Dani Alves (out)
Villarreal Outs & Doubts: Gerard Moreno (out)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 27, 2021, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Estadio de la Cerámica (forever El Madrigal in our hearts), Villarreal, Spain
Referee: César Soto Grado
VAR: José Luis Munuera Montero
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 5 (Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a brutal goalless draw against Benfica in the Champions League, Barcelona are right back in action for a third game in seven days as they travel to the beautiful city of Villarreal to face the Yellow Submarine at the historically tough El Madrigal. (Don’t let anyone tell you the stadium has another name.)
Barça come into this La Liga match having finally returned to winning ways in the league thanks to a tough, narrow victory in the Catalan Derby against Espanyol in Xavi’s managerial debut. Even though the result against Benfica was disappointing, the first two games with Xavi in charge have been very encouraging to Barça fans and there is a hope that the short-term effects of the coaching change will be even more positive than expected.
There are still several problems in this team and they need time to recover the injured players and work on the issues that Xavi has already identified. No one ever thought this would be a quick fix, but Barça were very competitive in the last two matches and might make some noise this season if Xavi continues to evolve his side.
A good way to prove how good this team can be is a win away to Villarreal. Even though the Yellow Submarine hasn’t beaten Barça in their last 24 encounters, they always find a way to make it incredibly difficult. That’s especially the case at the Madrigal, and that’s even more true with Unai Emery in charge. The Europa League Daddy seems to relish coming up against Barça and making them suffer more than any other team, and he’ll undoubtedly come up with a good gameplan against Xavi.
Villarreal have been struggling as of late, and it’s no coincidence that this team has been very poor in front of goal since the injury to star striker Gerard Moreno. They clearly lack a scoring threat but can still be dangerous from set pieces and have enough strength in midfield to press Barça all over the pitch and force mistakes in bad positions for the Blaugrana.
This will be tough, sometimes a little too physical, and will probably be decided by a mistake on either side. Barça have to be ready for a battle, and must find a way to convert their chances against a good Villarreal defense.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, García, Alba; Nico, Busquets, De Jong; Demir, Memphis, Gavi
Villarreal (4-3-3): Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupiñán; Trigueros, Capoue, Parejo; Pino, Dia, Danjuma
Neither team looks very likely to score right now, and Villarreal know how to defend: 0-0 draw.