After having had the possibility of performing a luxury training in the Champions League, Barcelona defends this Sunday, December 10, the unbeaten leadership of the Spanish Championship version 2017/2018. From 17:45 (Brasília time) will face Villarreal at the stadium of La Ceramica in Villarreal. The match is part of the schedule of the fifteenth round of La Liga.
The recent performance of Villarreal
Villarreal suffered defeats in the last two rounds of the competition. In the day of number 14 took 3 to 1 of the Leganés, outside the house. Before, in his dominions, was beaten by Seville by 3 to 2. Thus, fell to the sixth position. It closes the classification zone for European tournaments with 21 points (six wins, three draws and five losses).
Keeping that position seems to be the ultimate goal to be traced by the “Yellow Submarine” for the season. The distance to Sevilla, fifth placed, is already seven points. Of course it is not something irreversible, since there are still 24 matches to be played. However, the performance presented by Villarreal is not enough for such ambition to be qualified as real.
On Thursday, December 7, the club suffered another setback. This time in the Europa League. In a game for the sixth and final round of the group stage, it took 1 to 0 of Israel’s Maccabi. In that case, the defeat was not as important since the team was already qualified for the next phase of the competition.
Hopes for improvement find another hurdle in the large number of injured athletes. They are in the ward the goalkeeper Andres Fernandez (two games in the 2017/2018 Spanish Championship); defender Ruben Semedo (three games, no goal); midfielder Samu Castillejo (nine games, one goal); and attackers Carlos Bacca (14 games, four goals), Nicola Sansone (nine games, three goals) and Leonardo Suárez (a game without a goal). Lows are possible that affect not only the quality, but also the amount of options that the technician Javier Calleja has in hand since the team has a very lean cast.
The current form of Barcelona
Turbulence is something that has not happened in Barcelona since the start of the season when the club saw Neymar leave the club following Paris Saint-Germain and suffered two defeats for Real Madrid in the decision of the Supercup of Spain. Since then, the club has not been beaten. Accumulate a series of 22 games without losing. There were 17 wins and five draws.
That earned not only the qualification for the Round of 16 of the King’s Cup, when the team will follow their title defense against Celta, but also an anticipated berth in the Round of 16 of the Champions League and, of course, Spanish. With 36 points (11 wins and three draws), Barca opened front five points in the comparison with Valencia, placed second.
This scenario of absolute tranquility allowed coach Ernesto Valverde to use the game against Sporting on Tuesday, December 5, for the sixth and final round of the UEFA Champions League group stage as a testing platform. He even left the star Lionel Messi (14 games in the 2017/2018 version of La Liga, 13 goals) on the bench. He entered the field only in the second half of the win, 2-0.
The experiments may be useful to fill in possible absences from players who are doubtful for Sunday’s match because they are in injury treatment. This group consists of defenders Javier Mascherano (six games, no goal) and Samuel Umtiti (12 games, no goal); the socks Andrés Iniesta (12 games, a goal) and Arda Turan (without performances); and striker Ousmane Dembele (two games, no goal).
History of the bouts between Villarreal and Barcelona
There are already 18 games in which Barcelona are not defeated by Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine’s most recent victory came in 2008 when they scored 2-1 at Camp Nou. Since then, there have been 13 Barça victories and five equal ones.
Barcelona is the best betting option for the game anda that has to play at the opponent’s home. It has a price of 1.55 in Rivalo. Draw returns from 4.30 and Villarreal’s success pays 5.70.