Villarreal CF (7th, 49pts) vs FC Barcelona (3rd, 68pts)
Competition/Round: 2020-21 La Liga, Matchday 32
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Miralem Pjanic, Martin Braithwaite, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho (out)
Villarreal Outs & Doubts: Vicente Iborra (out), Pervis Estupiñán (doubt)
Date/Time: Sunday, April 25, 2021, 4.15pm CET (Barcelona), 3.15pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 10.15am ET, 7.15am PT (USA), 7.45pm IST (India)
Venue: Estadio de La Cerámica, Vila-real, Spain
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
VAR: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others
Following a 5-2 win over Getafe at Camp Nou on Thursday to stay on course in the race for the La Liga title, Barcelona face their next challenge as they travel to what will forever be El Madrigal in our hearts to play against Villarreal on Sunday afternoon in Spain.
Barça had some good and bad moments against Getafe and had to navigate some tricky waters for a few minutes in the second half, but the Blaugrana eventually won comfortably and are now seven wins away from the championship.
Real Madrid dropped points again this weekend and are looking a little fragile despite the win in El Clásico two weeks ago, and it is starting to look like a two-horse race between Barça and leaders Atlético Madrid, with their May encounter at Camp Nou feeling more and more like a final as we get closer to it.
But the only way Barça can go into that match with a chance to win the league is by winning every game until then, and doing so away to Villarreal will not be easy at all. It’s always tricky at the Madrigal, no matter what the Yellow Submarine’s form is.
Villarreal have lost two of their last three games in the league, as they have made the Europa League their main focus for the stretch run. Unai Emery knows how to win that tournament and he’s got his team in the semifinal against Arsenal, with the first leg coming next Thursday.
With that massive game in mind, Villarreal could approach this encounter with Barça in two ways: either they’ll be looking ahead to Thursday and won’t put too much of a fight if they go behind early, or they’ll want to use this as the perfect tune-up against the mighty Catalans to get themselves ready for the Gunners and will fight for every blade of grass.
We can only truly know which Villarreal will show up once the game starts, but Emery likes to cause Barça problems and expecting an easy game is silly. Barça have to be at their best for 90 minutes, Ronald Koeman has to get out of his own team’s way and Lionel Messi has to carry on his insane 2021 form.
This should be good. And nervous.
Barcelona (3-4-3): Ter Stegen; Araujo, Piqué, Lenglet; Dest, De Jong, Pedri, Alba; Messi, Dembélé, Griezmann
Villarreal (4-3-3): Asenjo; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros; Chukwueze, Alcácer, Gerard
I have a funny feeling about this one because Villarreal away always makes me all kinds of nervous, but I’ll still be optimistic: 3-1 Barça.