GameThread: Villarreal vs. Barcelona

Will Gio and Aquino be celebrating Europe today? - Jeff J Mitchell

Tito Vilanova's tragic passing. A spotlight on Giovani dos Santos, both for his past (same for Joan Román) and future (same for Javier Aquino). A primetime matchup with both sides having something to play for -- European football and the league title, respectively. Should be a good one at an expectant Estadio El Madrigal.

Villarreal is often labeled Barcelona-lite -- both sides enjoy playing possession football and weaving intricate passing sequences. The visitors are sometimes accused of over-passing, while the hosts have too often lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Oh, and the visitors have some guy named Lionel Messi. Who played with and was contrasted to Giovani dos Santos in Barcelona's famed La Masia youth academy.

Marcelino García Toral's squad for the match (two players will drop out):
Keepers: J. Carlos, Asenjo.
Defenders: Mario, J. Costa, Jokic, Pantic, Gabriel, Musacchio.
Midfielders: Bruno, Manu, Pina, Cani, J. Román, Óliver, Aquino, Moi.
Strikers: Jony, Perbet, Gio, Uche.

Villarreal is still light at center back without long-term absentees Chechu Dorado and Pablo Íñiguez, but Ikechukwu Uche returns to bolster the attack (though probably not for 90 minutes). Expect a midfielder and a defender or two midfielders to drop out of the squad, with Moi Gómez and Jaume Costa my best guesses.

My expected Villarreal XI (4-2-2-2): Asenjo; Mario, Pantic, Musacchio, Jokic; Pina, Bruno; Cani, Aquino; Gio, Perbet.

My expected Villarreal bench: J. Carlos; Gabriel; Manu, Óliver, J. Román; Jony, Uche.

The match will air, well everywhere, but in the United States on BeIN Sports (in both languages). It starts at 3 pm Eastern Time, the culmination of a grand day of football: Liverpool-Chelsea; Valencia-Atlético; Athletic-Sevilla; Villarreal-Barcelona. Let's finish it off in style, boys. Endavant Villarreal!

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