Barcelona host Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday, with an eye on their first win in two games and a possible return to the summit of the table, reports 9o Minutes.
The Blaugrana beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, further reinforcing their qualification to the round of 16 and will be looking to bounce back from a rare defeat at the hands Real Betis followed by the most recent 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid.
Villarreal, meanwhile, is seeking only their fourth win of what has been a rather disappointing start to their campaign. The Yellow Submarine sit 16th on the table, just three points above the relegation zone and their task doesn’t get any easier with a trip to the Camp Nou.
Barcelona remain without striker Luis Suárez, who has suffered a knee injury that could potentially rule him out for two weeks.
This only adds to the Blaugrana’s injury woes, as midfielders Arthur and Sergi Roberto are also sidelined and Samuel Umtiti faces a late fitness test after missing the game against PSV with a knee injury.
Manu Trigueros is fit to make his 13th start of the campaign for Villarreal after overcoming an injury scare to feature in the Europa League on Thursday, but Javier Calleja’s men are sweating over the fitness of midfielders Bruno Soriano, Manuel Iturra and Javi Fuego. There have been 36 league fixtures to date between Barcelona and Villarreal, with the defending champions winning 20 and the Yellow Submarine boasting eight victories over the Blaugrana.
There have been eight draws between the Spanish sides. The last time these two teams met was at the Camp Nou in May, when Barça defeated their opponents 5-1. Barca’s recent league form, however, has been somewhat underwhelming, with the Blaugrana winning only one of their three La Liga matches since a 5-1 thrashing of Real Madrid in El Clasico.
Barcelona’s defensive record is also concerning.
Valverde’s men have the joint worst record in the top six for goals conceded (19 alongside Madrid) and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has kept only two clean sheets.
Villarreal have been poor in La Liga, to say the least, with just a single win in their last seven matches in the top flight. Their Europa League campaign casts a more positive picture, however, as they sit top of Group G, with a good chance to earn qualification to the next round.