Villarreal welcome Barcelona to .....the Ceramica Stadium? —who knows what the new name is for sure—on Sunday. Both clubs suffered first leg losses in their Copa del Rey ties. Barca played a day later and went down 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao, complaining about the referee...who sent two of Athletic’s players off. Headlines in the Spanish sport papers.
Villarreal lost 3-1 at Real Sociedad and complained about the referee too, but hardly anyone paid attention. So it goes.
Oh, yes, the match:
Barcelona are, ahem, Barcelona. They may be in some transition, they may be a little loose at the back, but they still have Neymar, Messi and Suarez up front. That’s really all you need to know. Oh, plus Andres Iniesta, who maybe the finest player of all of them.....
Villarreal are banged up—hopefully Victor Ruiz and Bruno Soriano will be available, but still no Cheryshev, no Roberto Soldado, and Cedric Bakambu is away on international duty. But, admittedly, Manu Trigueros is playing the best football of his life this season, and the Italian Connection, Roberto Soriano and Sansone have been very good, while Alexandre Pato has been inconsistent but has shown glimpses of great form.
All-time record: We actually have a decent all-time record against Barca—5-3-8 at home, so 18 points in 16 matches, and a result half the time. However, our last win in El Madrigal was back in 2007-08 (we had five wins and one loss against Barca from 2002-2007 at home, wow!). That 2007-08 match was noteworthy because we were awarded two penalties, each converted by Marcos Senna.
Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi both played 90 minutes in that match, by the way, as did Bruno Soriano.
Villarreal typically play well against Barca, but the Catalans are usually on their best game—to beat Barca these days, you really need to catch them on a bad day, have a bit of luck, and hope the referee isn’t influenced by their protestations. And, you need to convert your own chances. I’m thinking a draw might be in the cards.