Villarreal – Barcelona

Villarreal welcome Barcelona in one of the most interesting matches of La Liga’s 17th round. Both teams lost their games in the Copa del Rey during the week. Villarreal were beaten by Real Sociedad, while Barca lost their visit to Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames.

Both teams are currently holding a place in the Top 4 of the La Liga. Barcelona are just three points behind the current leader Real Madrid, but it’s important to note that the Los Blancos have a game in hand.

Villarreal are currently 4th in the standings with 29 points – just 5 points behind Luis Enrique’s Barca.

Villarreal can’t rely on the injured Roberto Soldado, while Bruno Soriano, Cedric Bakambu, Denis Cheryshev and Bojan Jokic are all doubtful for the game.

Luis Enrique welcomes back the French defender Jeremy Mathieu, who is once again healthy and ready to play. The back-up keeper Jasper Cillessen is still injured, while the youngster Carles Alena is also recovering from an injury.

We could say that the game at El Madrigal is very important for both teams. Everyone at Barcelona knows that the Catalan giant can’t lose any points in the battle with Real Madrid, especially with Real Madrid having a game in hand.

In same time Villarreal are not hiding their ambition to participate in the Champions League next season. But if they want to win the battle with teams like Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao, they need to win as much points as possible. Especially on home ground.

Last season the two teams met twice ina La Liga. The game at El Madrigal finished with a 2-2 draw, while Barca won 3-0 at the Camp Nou. Now we should expect another competitive clash, because both teams look strong enough to offer us a good game.