Luis Enrique will be hoping to make it two wins from two games in his role as Barcelona boss when his side travel to Villarreal in Week 2 of the La Liga campaign.
All eyes were on the Catalan giants during the opening weekend of the season following a flurry of summer transfer activity at the Camp Nou, and the Blaugrana duly obliged with an accomplished 3-0 victory against Elche; that despite being down to 10 men for the entirety of the second half.
But they face a much tougher task in their first away game of the season, for Villarreal—the side who finished in sixth place in last season’s La Liga—are a team capable of matching anybody on their day. The team wonderfully nicknamed as the Yellow Submarine play with a vibrancy and a fluidity comparable to the Catalans and subsequently we should be in for an enthralling fixture.
To ensure you don’t miss a second of the action, here are details needed on where to catch the match on the box or via a live stream. Let’s also take a closer look at both sides and how this one looks set to pan out.
Date: Sunday 31 August
Time: 6 p.m. (BST), 1 p.m. (ET)
Live Stream: Sky Go (UK), beIN Sports Connect (US)
TV Info: Live on Sky Sports 5 (UK), Live on beIN Sports (US)
Despite spending big this summer to bring in a host of quality players, some familiar faces were the main instigators of Barcelona’s excellent opening day victory. Andres Iniesta was typically majestic, but the performance of Lionel Messi would have surely gotten the Camp Nou faithful excited.
The Argentinean resembled an insatiable, hungry player in this clash. He pressed, tracked-back and tackled throughout the 90 minutes before sprinkling his patented stardust on proceedings to notch an excellent brace.
Here’s a forensic examination of his blistering display:
Although we shouldn’t really be too surprised that the Argentinean shone on the opening weekend, he always does, per Squawka:
Questions were asked pre-season about how Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez would line up together in a front three but this performance from Barcelona’s No. 10 emphasised that he remains the main man at the Camp Nou.
In further encouraging news for Barcelona, Neymar could also be set to make his return to the squad for the first time since spraining his ankle. He’s not been cleared as of yet for the Villarreal clash, but he seemed to be right in the thick of things during Barcelona’s training sessions this week, as the club’s official Twitter account noted:
In truth, Barcelona could probably do with their Brazilian maestro for this weekend’s trip to the Madrigal, for Villarreal are a very decent side and will pose a much sterner test than Elche. Marcelino’s team look as though they’re in excellent form, too.
They dispatched of Levante 2-0 in Week 1, and they will have been delighted that new signing Denis Cheryshev marked his first appearance in the iconic yellow strip with a goal. Giovani dos Santos also looks in excellent form, showcasing some sparkling skills on the opening weekend:
Villarreal also boast a trio of former La Masia graduates in their squad, and you can bet Giovani, Jonathan dos Santos and Javier Espinosa will be keen to get one over their former employers:
But the manner in which the home side will play could fall right into Barcelona’s hands. Villarreal love to open the game up and play expansive, passing football. Typically, when the likes of the Catalonians or either of the Madrid giants come to town against La Liga opponents, teams sit deep and look to frustrate, but Marcelino’s side won’t do that.
Make no mistake, Villarreal are capable of causing problems for this ropey Barcelona defence and this approach should make for an excellent, attacking and open game. But it will also afford Messi, Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic time on the ball to make things happen.
That’ll assist the visitors, and although the home side have enough in their attacking armoury to breach the Barcelona back-line, Enrique’s side have enough firepower in their ranks to ensure they’ll be taking three points back to Catalonia.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona