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PREVIEW: Villarreal prepare to get their teeth stuck into Barcelona giants

After last season's blistering start where we impressed against Real Madrid at home, we look to do the same against Barcelona.

David Ramos

In last year’s match we were extremely unlucky not to come away with three points.  To call it unlucky does not come close to describing the agony of losing from a 2-0 lead.   We suffered two own goals (which speaking as a defender myself is often impossible to avoid); there was the banana-throwing incident, and in the end Barcelona came away with a completely undeserved 3-2 win.

But if the Submarine can show the same determination in this coming encounter, the result could be different. 
Many times we have come close to toppling the Giants, and I believe this will be our season.
Prediction: 2-1 Villarreal , with Barcelona scoring an own goal. Irony is a killer!


The Catalans are wounded animals after last year’s disappointment of losing the league title to Aletico. The former league champions have strengthened for this season despite facing a transfer ban, which has left many pundits wondering how they have managed it.   After a disappointing world cup, and Xavi looking like he would leave, they have bought in Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla to strengthen their aging midfield. Sevilla were a constant thorn in our side last season and we will be hopeful that the Croat won’t be as successful with his new team.

The blaugrana also brought in World Cup star Claudio Bravo and Valencia’s Jeremy Mathieu. Both are likely to start, while Tomas Vermaelen will be out with a torn hamstring.  Another kick in the teeth for Barca is their star acquisition Luis Suarez who is still banned to play for Barca until October.

Return of the Golden Boys
We have signed two former Barcelona prodigies in Javier Espinosa and Johnathan Dos Santos. Both would be keen to prove themselves against their former employer.  It seems unlikely, but not impossible as Marcelino has a habit of trying different things against the bigger sides (for example, playing Edu Ramos in the 4-2 Madrid defeat).  In my opinion this is excellent management allowing the young players to prove their worth, but Espinosa is likely to be rested after playing in the Europa league victory on Thursday.  Trigueros and Gio Dos Santos are also former Barcelona players and will likely be the only ex-Barca players to start.

Line ups
Barcelona will be more or less at full strength. Rumours of Neymar returning have spread. Hopefully he will be the player that even the opponent enjoy watching, not the Olympic diver he usually is whereby he rolls around 50 times like he has been shot. (personal rant over).   Messi looks to be in fine form after scoring a brace at Elche.  However we are not Elche and we will come out all guns blazing.

Unfortunately Ike Uche is going to miss this one, not included in the 18 Marcelino names today due to injury.  This means that either Vietto or Gerard is likely to partner Gio up front.   Bojan Jokic is also out with a sore right knee, diagnosis unknown, so Jaume Costa will start.

The squad is the following:

  • Keepers: Asenjo and Juan Carlos.
  • Defenders: Mario, Rukavina, Jaume Costa, Gabriel, Musacchio y Víctor Ruiz.
  • Midfielders: Trigueros, Bruno, Pina, Moi Gómez, Espinosa, Cani y Cheryshev.
  • Strikers: Giovani, Vietto y Gerard Moreno

Possible starting XI  Asenjo, Costa, Ruiz, Musacchio, Rukavina, Cani, Bruno, Trigueros, Cheryshev, Gerard, Santos

We will take on Barcelona at El Madrigal at 19:00h Spanish time on Sunday. Vammoooosss