Fc Barcelona vs Villarreal: Up next for Xavi’s Barcelona in La Liga Santander is a visit from Unai Emery’s Villareal team, which is set up to be quite the clash between the two managing football purists.
Date: Thursday, 20th October 2022
Competition: La Liga
Venue: Camp Nou
Time: 16:15 CEST (Barcelona)
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande (Spain)
Following a rather disappointing week in terms of results against opponents that Fc Barcelona would’ve been adamant to win against, both the draw against Inter Milan and the loss in El Clasico being pills that are hard to swallow, the Catalans now host another formidable opponent in La Liga, Villarreal.
Despite having to endure a rather unpleasant spell of games, 7th-placed Villarreal have shown that they remain a competent side to overcome any opposing team, regardless of stature. Having conceded only 3 goals in the entirety of the league campaign this season, Villarreal boast the strongest defensive record as of this moment.
This merit belonged to Barcelona themselves before the 3 goals conceded against Real Madrid increased the goals they’d conceded this season from 1 to 4. It will be a tough and consistently exhausting engagement to try to break down Villarreal’s stubborn defense come Tuesday. But with the various attacking options and changes Xavi has at his disposal, it isn’t an impossible task by any means.
Villareal have managed to score 12 goals this season while having conceded only 3, showcasing that they aren’t overly reliant on their defensive attributes and may as well punish their opponents if given the chance to, which is something La Blaugrana will need to constantly be mindful of if they want to come out of this fixture with those much needed 3 points.
In terms of a tactical and statistical battle, the yellow submarine ( according to data provided by soccerment ) are above the average quality in multiple stats in La Liga Santander. In terms of clean sheets and dribbles in particular they are noticeably more effective than the average La Liga team, as well as slightly better in terms of shots on target.
They lack, however, when it comes to ball recoveries, which is essential for teams that like to focus on ball retention and look to quickly recover the ball if broken away from possession. They are also rather average in terms of their goal-scoring ability, yet as mentioned before, their extremely strong defensive record makes them a very balanced outfit. The main goal-scoring threat to keep an eye out for would be their two Talisman, Gerard Moreno and Jose Luis Morales, the former having 3 goals this season and the latter having 7 to his name.
Fc Barcelona on the other hand have some major decisions pending on their end of the spectrum. Changes to the starting eleven seem evident, as multiple reports have started to suggest that the criticism and singling out of Sergio Busquets may not have just been fan chatter, and may potentially have resonated in the dressing room as well given that he may be rested against Villarreal and have his spot given to someone else who can play in the pivot position.
The name that has been mentioned most prominently to take his place has been that of Frenkie De Jong, who even Xavi mentioned is a very possible option for the pivot position during his pre-match press conference.
Fc Barcelona vs Villarreal: Potential Line-up
The man of the hour for Barcelona, Ter Stegen has been phenomenal for the Catalans this season when it’s come to making crucial saves.
Center-back: Jules Kounde
The long-awaited return of the Frenchman did not disappoint, as he marshaled the Barca defense as best as he could and made sure his individual game was on-point throughout the match.
Center-back: Eric Garcia
The young Spanish defender still instills doubt every time he takes the field for Barca, yet he still retains the faith of the coach and remains possibly the most viable option in that position until Christensen or Araujo return.
Left-back: Jordi Alba
According to numerous reports, Jordi Alba may as well be given a start against Villareal by Xavi due to his solid cameo against Real Madrid.
Right-back: Sergi Roberto
Despite coming up quite short-handed against Vinicius Jr during El Clasico, it would be expected that Sergi Roberto starts the game as the Right Back even if he does end up being replaced by Bellerin later in the game.
CDM: Frenkie De Jong
As reported in the Spanish media, it seems to be Frenkie De Jong who will take over the pivot position in the scenario that Sergio Busquets does end up getting benched against Villarreal.
The young maestro will have to have something really special up his sleeve for this upcoming tie in order to aid his team in breaking down Villarreal’s rigid defense.
The Kopa Trophy winner of 2022, Gavi will be in a really positive mindset following his claim to glory as the best youngster in Europe for the previous season.
Left-winger: Ansu Fati
Given his amazing performance against Real Madrid in the short span of time he was given, it would be a surprise to not see Ansu Fati in the starting eleven come Tuesday.
Right-winger: Ferran Torres
Having a rather lackluster season so far in terms of direct goal stats, Ferran has shown regardless time and time again that his contribution to this Barcelona team exists beyond just basic statistics, as both his work rate and inclination to provide an extra hand in whatever part of the field can prove fundamental against an opposition equally determined on all fronts.
The undisputed starter at the forefront of the attacking trident, there will be many expectations for Lewandowski to perform better against Villarreal than he managed to do against Real Madrid.
Fc Barcelona vs Villarreal: Formation: 4-3-3
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Defenders: Alba, Eric, Kounde, Roberto
Midfielders: Pedri, De Jong, Gavi
Forwards: Fati, Lewandowski, Ferran