The Yellow Submarine have had a tough time against Barcelona in recent years. Maybe it’s my fault; since I joined the VUSA blog in 2010, we have taken exactly zero points in the Camp Nou, and haven’t won at home either (though we do have a few draws)!
Seriously, the difference reflects the change in football over the last 20 years or so, where the moneyed teams like Barcelona are simply on a different level. Our all-time record in the Camp Nou is 3-4-10, hardly good, but Barca have won the last six meetings.
This one has a lot at stake for Villarreal since a point here (or even three, dare we dream) would probably ensure European football next season. For Barcelona, their undefeated league season is at stake.
Barca are without the suspended Roberto, and Samuel Umtiti is an injury doubt.
For Villarreal, Bruno is injured, Rukavina is suspended.
I have a sneaking suspicion Daniele Bonera may get a start for us at centerback with Alvaro, because of his experience. We will be trying to blunt the speed advantage of Luis Suarez, and then there is this Messi guy. Good luck with that.
I have always said to defeat Barca—or even to draw in the Camp Nou—you need their stars to have an off-day. It happens every now and then, but not much. You also need some luck/favorable referee calls, which hardly ever happens, and you have to play ‘pretty much unconscious’ yourself. In the last eight years Villarreal have sometimes been blown out, but mostly we’ve competed against Barca pretty well. Bad luck (the Gabriel and Musacchio own goals in the Dani Alves ‘banana’ game) and lack of attention at critical moments like quick free kicks have cost us. And then there is Messi, with 10 goals against us in our lat 13 matches (since fall 2010).
Prediction: I have no earthly reason to have any confidence that we’ll get anything from this match, but under Calleja we have won in the Bernabeu, so hey. I don’t think we will blow up Barca’s undefeated season, but is a 2-2 score possible? Sure. Or even 1-1. I’m thinking a draw.