Key Battles That Will Shape Barcelona's Clash with Villarreal

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2014

Key Battles That Will Shape Barcelona's Clash with Villarreal

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    Barcelona have been preparing all week for their second La Liga match of the season, one that will surely be no walk in the park. The Catalans are set to travel to El Madrigal on Sunday to take on the always-difficult Villarreal as they look to keep their strong start to the campaign going.

    In their last nine trips to El Madrigal, Barcelona have walked away with five wins and lost on three occasions. It will be a tough test for the Blaugrana, but Lionel Messi and Co. will be ready for the challenge.

    In this article we will take a look at the tactical battles that will shape the clash, as well as discuss Barcelona’s chances against the Yellow Submarine.

    As always, get involved in the discussion in the comment section below to let us know how you think the match at El Madrigal will unfold.

Lionel Messi vs. Mateo Musacchio

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    Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

    When it comes to stopping Barcelona, everything hinges on slowing down Lionel Messi. While that is usually impossible, Villarreal center back Mateo Musacchio will give the Yellow Submarine their best chance against the Blaugrana.

    Last year, Musacchio was one of the strongest defenders in Spain and will be looking to keep his tremendous form going. If he can continue leading the Villarreal back line, Barcelona will find it hard to get their offensive game going.

    Watching Messi go at Musacchio all night will be absolutely thrilling and a matchup to behold. Messi is expected to have the upper hand, but do not be surprised if his fellow Argentine makes things extremely difficult for him.

Sergio Busquets vs Bruno

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    In Sergio Busquets, Barcelona have a cog that ties everything in the system together. The Catalan midfielder reads the game better than anyone around and rarely puts in a bad performance. However, Villarreal have their own engine in the center of the pitch in Bruno Soriano.

    Bruno has had a long and successful career at Villarreal, which has made him a fan favorite. Last season, the 30-year-old was flawless and a big reason for the Yellow Submarine’s success.

    On Sunday, Busquets and Bruno will both be looking to do the exact same job—nullify the opposing attack and looking to tie the passing together. For either to have a truly inspirational night, they will have to mark the other out of the game.

    When Barcelona meet Villarreal at El Madrigal, two of the best defensive midfielders in Spain will be going head to head, and it will be an exciting matchup for fans.

Giovani dos Santos and Uche vs. the Barcelona Defense

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    Barcelona’s defense are still trying to find their identity under new manager Luis Enrique, and they will be put to the test on Sunday. Villarreal posses one of the best attacking duos in Spain in Giovani Dos Santos and Ikechukwu Uche, and the Blaugrana will not have an easy night trying to keep them at bay.

    No one quite knows how the back line will look for the Catalans. Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascherano started in the heart of the defence for the first match of the season last week, but they may not be the pairing that sees the pitch on Sunday. Gerard Pique could return to the scene, while the likes of Marc Bartra may also get time.

    Regardless of who starts in defense for Barcelona, the Villarreal attack will be dangerous. The Catalans may love to keep possession and pass the ball a lot, but the Yellow Submarine have very fast players across their front line and are never afraid to hit on the counter.

    Barcelona will not have an easy night at El Madrigal, and they will have to keep Dos Santos and Uche at bay if they want things to go their way.

     

    How will the match at El Madrigal play out? Will Busquets or Bruno win the battle for the midfield? Leave your thoughts and comments below.