Barcelona looks forward to extend its 7 game winning streak as it invites the 18-games unbeaten Villareal to the Camp Nou tonight.
Luis Enrique’s men have reached the pedestal of the most in form club in Europe at the moment after Bayern Munchen were surprisingly thrashed 4-1 by Wolfsburg this weekend. Barca after a devastating start to the year by a 1-0 defeat to Sociedad, have won seven games in a row and in a spectacular fashion to add to it. They have beaten the reigning La Liga champions in all the three meetings in a space of just three weeks. Be it Liga or the Copa quarter finals, the Catalans have taken the better off the red and whites. The speculations surrounding Messi and Enrique at the start of the year and the tensions within the club all now seem to have sublimated due to the fabulous victories the club is enjoying on every front.
Villareal too have a positive psychology backing them in every game as the club is unbeaten in its last 10 Liga games and 18 games in all competitions, its last defeat coming against FC Zurich in the Europe league in November, 2014.
Villareal now sit at the 6th spot and have shown clear signs of some serious contention for the Champions League spot the next season. Their intentions are very clear as the team will look to extend their unbeaten run and break the winning streak of Barcelona.
Barcelona on the other hand clearly understand the intensity of tonight’s home fixture as a slip tonight will take away the Liga title way away from their grasp. With Real Madrid and Atletico both having bagged comfortable victories yesterday the pressure will be on Luis Enrique’s side tonight in order to keep up in the race.
Midfielder Xavi, is highly motivated with his teams current run of form. He said,
“Everything is based on results, and now it seems that everything is wonderful. It’s great for the whole team.”
He also added that he is happy about not have left Barcelona at the start of the season as it was highly speculated.
“I made the right call. Now the most important thing is the team and I’ll have later to decide my future. The most important thing is the team is alive in all three competitions.”
The yellow submarines are highly motivated too as their in-form striker Luciano Vietto has scored more than Mandzukic this season and as many as Karim Benzema. The Argentine is a big reason of worry for the Catalan defense tonight as he has proved himself to be highly clinical and dangerous in front of the goal. Pique who became a father for the second time last week will start tonight with a host of responsibilities upon him. Also the new Arsenal arrival, Joel Campbell is ready and willing to brace the yellow shirt and has mentioned that he is highly focused towards achieving greater things with his new club.
Villareal boss Marcelino is going for a victory tonight.
“It will be a very difficult tie for us. Maybe we are favourites, but we have to make good on that.”
He said to the reporters.
The team news so far has confirmed that Douglas and Thomas Vermaelen will be missing out this game for Barcelona. For Villareal, there will be an influence missing at the back as the newly signed defender Eric Bailly, is away to play for Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations. In his place Chechu Dorado could be given a chance to make his fourth Liga appearance of this season.
Co-incidentally, Villareal beat Getafe 2-0 on aggregate inspired by a goal from Moreno and have set up a semi-final fixture against the Catalan side itself. This match might be a build-up or probably a fierce trailer to what we can expect to see among these two sides in the next round of the Copa.
The last time these two sides met in August, Barcelona had scrapped out a 0-1 away victory courtesy of a late goal from Ramirez.
Whatever be the case, tonight one side’s heart will be broken. As Villareal are in an unbeaten run they will try to break the winning streak of Barcelona. And the other way round, the Catalans will try not to slip up their fabulous form by beating the yellow submarines. The Camp Nou has not witnessed a draw this season in the Liga, will it come tonight when winning matters so much?
MATCH DATE: 1st February, 2015
REFEREE: Inaki Bikandi Garrido
VENUE: Camp Nou, Barcelona
Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Asenjo; Gaspar, Musacchio, Ruiz, Costa; Bruno, Trigueros, Jonathan; Cheryshev, Vietto, Giovani
Prediction: FC Barcelona 3 : Villareal 2