Barcelona will kick off their 2020-21 La Liga campaign when they host Villarreal at the Camp Nou on Sunday night. It's going to be a fresh start for Barcelona under new coach and former player Ronald Koeman.
After a turbulent season break that saw Lionel Messi threaten to leave the club before reversing his decision, Barcelona will be hoping to procure some positive results to counter the pressure that is mounting on the club.
Villarreal started their new season off with a draw against newly promoted Huesca but they followed it up with a 2-1 win over SD Eibar. Villarreal have to navigate a tough set of fixtures as they have matches against Atletico Madrid and Valencia coming up right after.
Villarreal have been able to assert themselves in midfield in their opening two fixtures thanks to Dani Parejo and they will be hoping that he and Coquelin will be able to negotiate the midfield battle ably against their Barcelona counterparts.
Barcelona will be without Luis Suarez who has now joined Atletico Madrid and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the side will rally around Lionel Messi in the final third as the ball starts rolling in the Koeman regime.
Barcelona vs Villarreal Head-to-Head
Barcelona and Villarreal have faced each other 31 times in the past. Barcelona have dominated the fixture, winning 21 of those games. Villarreal have been victorious on three occasions while seven games have ended in draws.
The last time these two sides met was in July earlier this year and Barcelona won 4-1 away from home.
Barcelona form guide: W-L-W-W-W
Villarreal form guide: L-W-L-D-W
Barcelona vs Villarreal Team News
Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann are expected to line up alongside Lionel Messi in attack. Philippe Coutinho might feature in an attacking role as well. Frenkie De Jong and Busquets are expected to play anchormen in midfield for Koeman.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a notable absentee and he will be out for the next two months due to a knee injury. Martin Braithwaite picked up a quad injury in their previous game and will be unavailable. Samuel Umtiti might make his return following a knee injury and is a doubt for the game.
Injuries: Martin Braithwaite, Marc Andre ter Stegen.
Doubtful: Samuel Umtiti
As for Villarreal, Alberto Moreno will be a long-term absentee after rupturing his cruciate ligament. Ramiro Guerra is out through a knee injury.
Injuries: Alberto Moreno and Ramiro Guerra
Barcelona vs Villarreal Predicted Lineups
Barcelona Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Neto, Sergi Roberto, Clement Lenglet, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong, Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann
Villarreal Predicted XI (4-4-2): Sergio Asenjo, Ruben Pena, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres, Alfonso Pedraza, Samuel Chukwueze, Vicente Iborra, Dani Parejo, Moi Gomez, Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcacer
Barcelona vs Villarreal Prediction
Unai Emery's side might just fancy their chances against an unsettled Barcelona side on Sunday. We expect a tight contest but the Cules should be able to kickstart their new season with a win.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 VillarrealPublished 25 Sep 2020, 19:26 IST