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Villarreal vs Barcelona: Predictions
It’s been a temperamental start to Ronald Koeman’s tenure in the Camp Nou dugout, with the esteemed Dutchman experiencing a few teething autumnal problems, but steadying the ship since the turn of the year, and now Barcelona are just five points off the summit, and with a game in hand.
The Catalan club recently lifted the Copa del Rey, which has somewhat placated the frustration of coming up short in the Supercopa de Espana and exiting the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage, but Koeman will now have his sights set on catching Atleti and marking his maiden campaign with a domestic double.
For Villarreal they are currently seventh in the table and a seismic 18 points adrift of fourth-placed Sevilla, so their best route into the Champions League next season may come through the Europa League backdoor, with Unai Emery preparing to face his former club Arsenal in the semi-finals.
But, that does not mean there is nothing to play for in La Liga, as the Yellow Submarine are in genuine danger of missing out on even the Europa Conference League if they are not careful, so Emery will be giving his all to earn points here, and possibly end the club’s 23-game winless run against Barca in La Liga.
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Villarreal vs Barcelona: Match Stats
Lionel Messi has been a man on a mission in 2021. No surprises there, really. The diminutive Argentine genius recently notched a brace in the 5-2 win over Getafe, and in doing so, he brought up his 25th goal on the season, making him the only player to score a quarter century of league goals in each of the last 12 seasons.
Those strikes also consolidated his position in first of the ‘Pichichi’ race for top goalscorer in La Liga this season, while against Villarreal, he has scored 15 goals in his 23 meetings against them in the league, more than any other player has bagged against the club in the Spanish top flight.
Villarreal’s luck against Barca also translates to their manager, Emery. The former Arsenal head coach has a La Liga win ratio against the club of just 5.6%, facing them 18 times, winning just once, drawing five times and losing 12. He will want to rectify that woeful record, but Barca are naturally formidable in the history books; they have won ten games and scored 36 goals at the Estadio de la Ceramica again Villarreal in La Liga, more than any other visitor at the Valencian venue in the competition.