Barcelona vs. Villarreal: Team News, Preview, Live Stream and TV Info

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2017

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - JANUARY 08: Lionel Andres Messi (c) of FC Barcelona battles for the ball with Jaume Vicent Costa Jordá (l) and Bruno Soriano Llido of Villarreal CF during their La Liga match between Villarreal and FC Barcelona at the Estadio de la Cerámica on 08 January 2017 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona will hope to keep up the pressure on Real Madrid in the La Liga title race on Saturday, when they host Villarreal at the Camp Nou.

The Blaugrana sit top of the table with three matches to play, although Real are also on 81 points having played a game less. Los Blancos will have the chance to respond later on Saturday, when they make the trip to face Tony Adams' already-relegated Granada side.

It's a crucial game for Luis Enrique's men as a result and arguably the most testing fixture they have remaining on their La Liga schedule. Villarreal, after all, still have an outside chance of finishing in the top four and qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League.

Read on for all the key details on where to catch this vital match at the top of La Liga, the latest team news for each side and a preview of how this showdown at the Camp Nou is set to play out.

Date: Saturday, May 6

Time: 5:30 p.m. (BST), 12:30 p.m. (ET)

TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), beIN Sports (U.S.)

Live Stream: Sky Go (UK), beIN Sports CONNECT (U.S.)

   

Team News

Barcelona: After missing the 3-0 win over Espanyol last weekend, Andres Iniesta is also doubtful for Barcelona in this one. The Blaugrana will also be without long-term absentees Aleix Vidal, Rafinha and Jeremy Mathieu.

Likely XI: Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Andre Gomes, Ivan Rakitic; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar

Villarreal: Defender Victor Ruiz missed the 3-1 win over Sporting Gijon, meaning manager Fran Escriba will likely continue with Daniele Bonera and Alvaro Gonzalez at centre-back. Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo and winger Denis Cheryshev are both out.

Likely XI: Andres Fernandez; Mario Gaspar, Daniele Bonera, Alvaro Gonzalez, Jose Angel; Roberto Soriano, Bruno, Manu Trigueros, Jonathan Dos Santos; Cedric Bakambu, Roberto Soldado

Team news courtesy of Transfermarkt.

   

Preview

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - JANUARY 08:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona in action during the La Liga match between Villarreal CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio de la Ceramica on January 08, 2017 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by fotopress/Getty Images)
fotopress/Getty Images

Watching Real Madrid grab a late winner against Valencia last weekend must have been a body blow to the Barcelona players, and perhaps it was unsurprising it took them a while to get going at Espanyol.

Indeed, Enrique's side failed to register a shot on target in the first period of the game and were toiling in their attacking play for much of the second half. However, an error from Jose Manuel Jurado let Luis Suarez in, and he did the rest.

The Blaugrana eventually went on to win 3-0, with Suarez grabbing a brace. Per OptaJose, so often the Uruguayan has been the difference-maker for Barca:

You sense the Blaugrana may need him to be so again here against a Villarreal side that have been tough to break down this term.

Villarreal have been in excellent form as of late.
Villarreal have been in excellent form as of late.TF-Images/Getty Images

Indeed, when these two sides met earlier in the campaign, Lionel Messi came to Barcelona's rescue with a superb free-kick late on, salvaging a 1-1 draw. Despite losing Asenjo to injury earlier this year, Villarreal's defensive record in La Liga is only bettered by Atletico Madrid this season.

In recent weeks they've been in excellent form, winning five of their last six matches, including a 1-0 victory over Atletico at the Vicente Calderon. Cedric Bakambu is on fire, too, as WhoScored.com relayed ahead of his brace against Gijon at the weekend:

It means Barcelona will likely be in for a tough afternoon, as they have struggled at times this season against teams who are solid defensively. Escriba's outfit are among the best at taking the sting out of matches in La Liga.

Villarreal still have something to play for, too. They are five points behind Sevilla, who are in fourth place, with three games to go. However, if they were able to secure a memorable win here, the Andalusians would begin to get a little nervy, especially with a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid to come.

But Barcelona should just have enough. It's unlikely to be a free-flowing encounter, although the class of Messi, Neymar and Suarez will eventually swing it their way.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal

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