Villarreal vs. FC Barcelona / La Liga – This is a big derby of this round and for Villarreal this match which show whether they are really r willing to engage in the fight for the top rank, or will they be satisfied with the struggle for the eventual fourth place and placement in the Champions League. And for Barcelona this is one of the crucial matches because the eventual defeat could mean saying goodbye to the fight for the title. Both teams were defeated in the first matches in the round of sixteen of Copa del Rey, but they will not surrender and they have a chance to repair all in the second match at home. Villarreal has celebrated in the previous two duels, as well as Barcelona, which still has a long series without defeats in La Liga and five points on the account. Both teams are successful in European competitions, and they last season played a draw 2-2 at El Madrigal, while Barcelona celebrated at Nou Camp with 3-0. Begins: 08.01.2017. – 20:45 CET
Villarreal is still holding at the top of the table and it can be said this team is showing standard editions because they only have problem in the fact that they every season have a specific crisis and then lose matches that they should not lose, and therefore cannot be among the top three teams in the standings. This season, they already had one fall and then they allowed themselves a defeat by Alaves at home, which is their only defeat at El Madrigal. That was followed by a defeat in Bilbao, and a skinny draw with Leganes.
They recovered after a brilliant victory over Atletico Madrid, but in the last round in Gijon they also defeated Sporting with 3-1. They played a bad match in the Cup in San Sebastian and are welcoming a rematch against very unpleasant Real Sociedad with a minus of 3-1. Their composition was somewhat changed in that match and V.Ruiz and J.Costa were not in the back, and B.Soriano in midfield. Now all three of them are returning to the starting lineup, while Bakambuais at the African Cup of Nations. Soldado and Cheryshev are still injured and will not be able to perform in this match.
Probable lineups Villarreal: Asenjo – Mario, V.Ruiz, Musacchio, J.Costa – Trigueros, J.dos Santos, R.Soriano, B.Soriano – Pato, N.Sansone
Barcelona has not lost a single match almost whole of November and complete December, but that period has not brought them anything special. It is true that they ensured the round of sixteen in the Champions League, but they are still in a backlog in the championship for Real Madrid which have three points and one match more, which can easily mean six points less. In the Cup, they are still present, but they suffered a defeat on Thursday in that competition, the first in more than two months. It was expected that they will not have an easy time in Bilbao, however, they were losing after the first half with 2-0 and it was already a cause for alarm.
They have improved their game in the second part and they managed to score one goal, which can be very important, even though they had to do more, because at the end of the match, they had two more players on the field. Their composition was almost the strongest and it can be said that only Mascherano was absent, and Umtiti had to play instead. Their striking trio was not in the good mood, although Messi scored from a free throw. Mascherano is returning for this match at center-back and there is only one dilemma in midfield, where D.Suarez or A.Gomes could get advantage over Rakitic.
Probable lineups FC Barcelona: ter Stegen – S.Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, J.Alba – Busquets, Iniesta, D.Suarez – Messi, L.Suarez, Neymar
Villarreal vs. FC Barcelona PICK
Villarreal is very good this season, especially at home, and it is clear that they will not surrender easily in the match against favoured Barcelona. What they are certainly able to do in front of their fans is to achieve a goal against not very good defence of the Catalonians, which are relying the most on their strikers.
Pick: both teams will score
Odds: 1.70 at bet365 (down to 1.60 can be played)