Barcelona will host Villarreal in La Liga on Thursday night, hoping to bounce back from the defeat in El Clasico at the weekend.

Barcelona, who face Villarreal next, were in impressive form heading into El Clasico. But they suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid and have now dropped down to second in the league table.

Xavi Hernandez will be desperate for his side to bounce back strongly and close the gap to their arch-rivals. A win here would certainly give them a lift after a couple of disappointing performances in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.

Meanwhile, Villarreal are seventh in the league table, and they have been quite inconsistent this season. They will have to improve immensely in order to grind out a positive result at Camp Nou.

Despite the recent blips, Barcelona will be the firm favourites heading into the game, and it remains to be seen whether they can pocket all three points here. The last time these two sides met, Villarreal picked up a 2-0 win at Camp Nou back in May. And the away side will be hoping for more of the same here.

Team News & Tactics


Barcelona will be without the services of Memphis Depay, Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen for this game. While Depay and Araujo are sidelined with muscle injuries, summer signing Christensen is suffering from an ankle problem.

Xavi is likely to continue with his usual 4-3-3 formation here, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen starting in goal. Experienced full-back Sergi Roberto will start on the right-hand side of the defence, and Alejandro Balde will be deployed as the left-back. Meanwhile, Gerard Pique is likely to partner Eric Garcia at the heart of the Barcelona defence.

In the midfield, the experienced Sergio Busquets will be deployed as the holding midfielder, and he will be responsible for winning the ball back and breaking up the opposition attacks. The 35-year-old Spaniard will be joined by youngsters Gavi and Pedri at the heart of Barcelona’s midfield.

While Gavi is expected to control the tempo of the game and recycle the possession, Pedri will look to add flair and creativity in the middle.

Ansu Fati has been quite impressive with his cameos lately and will likely be handed a start here on the right side of the attack. Robert Lewandowski will continue leading the line, and he will be desperate to get on the scoresheet after a poor performance in El Clasico. Ousmane Dembele had an underwhelming outing against Real Madrid as well, and he will look to make his mark as the left-sided winger here.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Garcia, Balde; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Fati, Lewandowski, Dembele


The visitors have their fair share of injury problems as well. Villarreal will be without Juan Foyth, Francis Coquelin and Gerard Moreno. Coquelin is suffering from a calf injury, while Foyth picked up a knee injury against Getafe. Moreno has a thigh problem, and he is set to miss out as well.

Unai Emery’s men are likely to line up in a 4-3-3 as well with Geronimo Rulli in goal. Aissa Mandi will start as the right-back and Raul Albiol will partner Pau Torres at the heart of the Villarreal defence. Alfonso Pedraza should start as the left-back.

Experienced Albiol will be expected to keep Robert Lewandowski in check, while Torres will help the away side build from the back with his impressive distribution. Mandi and Pedraza will be expected to shield the centre-backs and provide some width going forward.

In the midfield, Dani Parejo, Manu Morlanes and Alex Baena are expected to form the trifecta. While Parejo will sit deep and dictate the tempo of the game, Morlanes will be expected to break up the play and disrupt Barcelona’s passing. Baena will add some creativity and link the midfield with the attack.

In the final third, Arnaut Danjuma and Yeremy Pino will operate as the wide forwards, and Nicolas Jackson is expected to lead the line in the absence of Moreno.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Rulli; Mandi, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Baena, Morlanes, Parejo; Danjuma, Jackson, Pino

Key Stats

  • Barcelona have won their last three home matches in La Liga.
  • Villarreal have failed to score in their last four away matches in La Liga.
  • Barcelona have kept a clean sheet in their last four home matches in La Liga.
  • Barcelona have won five of their last six matches against Villarreal.
  • Barcelona have scored 15 goals in their last six meetings against Villarreal.

Player to Watch

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski has been in imperious form since joining Barcelona, and he will be thoroughly disappointed with his performance against Real Madrid. The former Bayern Munich striker will be hurting, and he will be desperate to prove his worth here. The Polish international is one of the best players in the world, and a motivated Lewandowski could punish the Villarreal defence during the midweek.


Barcelona 3-1 Villarreal

Regardless of the defeat to Real Madrid, Barcelona have been quite impressive in La Liga this season. And they have enough quality to pick up all three points here. On the other hand, the away side have struggled to string together a series of consistent performances, and they are likely to fall short, especially without key players like Gerard Moreno.

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