The La Liga season kicked up a gear last weekend, with a host of shock results a new leader. This could be a very unpredictable season in La Liga, which means fans will become even more invested than ever. The game of the coming week will see Villarreal travel to Barcelona, with both sides looking to prove a point.
The pressure on Ernesto Valverde is beginning to mount after another league defeat away from home last time out. Their home has been solid throughout the season, but they can’t be thinking about winning the league if they can’t pick up points on their travels. Last time out they went to Granada and lost 2-0. The absence of Lionel Messi is having a bigger impact than most would have felt at this early stage, and they have been incapable of looking threatening without their talisman. The defeat last time out was a way below-par performance from the Catalans and the minimum requirement from the fans would be an increased goal threat. This loss came off the back of a draw against Borussia Dortmund in Germany, and that was also a game that the Catalans should have lost. They were overpowered in the middle of the park on that evening, and the pace in the Dortmund front line scared the life out of the Barca backline. There is a feeling that something drastic needs to happen at the club, but for the short term, they will just need to worry about getting Messi fit again.
Villarreal have had a decent start to the season and are a tough nut to crack. They held Real Madrid a few weeks ago, as Gareth Bale had to score a late equaliser. Valencia also held them after the international break, and that could highlight an Achilles heel. Villarreal will be targeting a top-four finish, but they can ill-afford too many draws, and they will need to change these points into three. Their most recent fixture came against Vallodolid, and they won 2-0. They were made to work hard for the win and had to wait until the 77th minute to break the deadlock. A Santi Cazorla penalty put them on the right path before a late Javier Ontiverson goal ensured the three points. However, a trip to the Nou Camp will be a particularly daunting task, and that is highlighted by Villarreal being the 8.55 outsiders with BetXChange.
Head to Head
The two sides have met on 40 previous occasions, and Barcelona holds a clear advantage with 23 wins. Villarreal have recorded seven victories, and there have been ten draws.
Barcelona Team News
Messi could return to the starting line-up for Barcelona. However, they will be without Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele.
Villarreal Team News
Villarreal have no injury concerns ahead of their trip to the Nou Camp.
Barcelona are incredibly strong at home, and they should have little concern getting past Villarreal under the lights. Expect a Messi masterclass to ease the pressure on Valverde.
Tip: Barcelona to win at 0.28 with BetXChange.