Barcelona and Villarreal will face off in a La Liga clash that's a dress rehearsal for the Copa del Rey semi-final. Actually, it's more significant than that.
Barca need to keep the pressure on league leaders Real Madrid, whom they trail by four points, per Sky Sports. As for the Yellow Submarine, the club will want to show its miserly defence won't suffer after the sale of Gabriel Paulista to Arsenal.
Here is the schedule and viewing information:
Date: Sunday, February 1, 2015
Time: 8 p.m. (GMT) / 3 p.m. (ET)
TV: Sky Sports 5 / beIN Sports
Barca are probably the worst opponents to field a weakened defence against in Europe at this moment in time. The club is thriving, thanks to the prolific partnership between Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr.
While Messi's brilliance can almost be taken for granted, Neymar has hit top form after a difficult debut season at the Camp Nou. The lightning-fast Brazilian forward has struck an impressive 21 goals in 25 appearances in all competitions, per WhoScored.com.
Meanwhile, Messi has rediscovered his scoring touch after a reported bust-up with manager Luis Enrique. That's according to centre-back Jeremy Mathieu, per Spanish radio station RMC (h/t FourFourTwo.com):
It happened when we got back from our holidays. Suddenly, Leo lost his temper after a foul that was not given in training. Things got tense and they exchanged some angry words.
Luis Enrique then approached him in the dressing room afterwards to talk to him and that was the end of it.
The Messi-Neymar double act has been devastating this season. But Barca would really be deadly if Luis Suarez could find his feet in front of goal.
Sadly, he's been lacking in front of the net since joining the Catalan club for £75 million last summer. Now there are even claims Arsenal could bring the striker who's bagged just two La Liga goals back to the Premier League, per Daily Express reporter Anthony Chapman.
Villarreal may have lost the cornerstone of a mean defence. But the club has welcomed young Arsenal forward Joel Campbell on loan. His pace and trickery could be crucial for a team likely to try and strike on the break.
He could form an intriguing partnership with fellow fleet-footed attacker Luciano Vietto. The 21-year-old Argentinian has scored nine La Liga goals this term, per WhoScored.com. He bagged the winner in Villarreal's last league outing against Levante.
Prediction: Barcelona 3-2 Villarreal
Villarreal's usually stubborn streak at the back will desert them at the Camp Nou. Barca just boasts too much class along their forward line.
However, Villarreal's attack also features ample quality that's sure to make things nervy for their illustrious hosts.