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Villarreal—Barcelona PREVIEW

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Juan Roman Riquelme of Villarreal
Riquelme in 2003. That was an amazingly baggy shirt design!!
Photo by Getty Images

Disappointing as the loss to Celta was—especially as it means we are now in danger of falling into the bottom three again, and must finish a point ahead of Celta in order to finish above them—Villarreal has no time to feel sorry for itself, because Barcelona are coming to the Ceramica tomorrow.

The blaugrana are 10 points clear at the top and have a big home match next weekend against Atleti before facing Manchester United away in the Champions League, so it’s conceivable we will see some rotations from Ernesto Valverde. Of course, Barcelona’s rotation players are better than most clubs’ first choices, so there’s that.

Villarreal are still not at full strength—Daniele Bonera was passed fit for Celta but didn’t play, and Ramiro Funes Mori returns from suspension, but Jaume Costa and Gerard Moreno are not available due to injury. And, Pablo Fornals may be facing a ban as a result of comments he made to the referees after Saturday’s loss.

All-time record: Need you ask? Actually, it’s not that bad (5-4-9 at home) though in a strange reversal of our record against Celta, all our wins have come early—our last defeat of Barcelona was in October 2007, 3-1, with the goals scorers being Santi Cazorla (1) and Marcos Senna (2 penalties). We have had a few draws at home in recent years.

Prediction: I hope I’m wrong, but after Saturday I’m afraid the team may still be a bit shellshocked. 2-0 Barcelona.