Despite the absence of several key men, Barca have enjoyed a straightforward start to their La Liga campaign, with a 3-0 win over Elche last week thanks to the reliable shooting boots of Lionel Messi. Villarreal, by contrast, were less convincing in their 2-0 victory over Levante.
Both sides will be keen to continue their winning momentum, but historically the Catalan club have the edge – though they’ll be keen to forget last season, they were victorious over Villareal in both fixtures last term and have won six out of the pair’s last seven meetings in all competitions. They also seem to have rediscovered their form under new boss Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi looks set to keep the goals coming after his brace last time out.
More good news for Barca comes in the shape of fit-again Neymar, absent for the opening La Liga game. And although new signings Thomas Vermaelen and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen are still sidelined with injuries, and Luis Saurez still serving his suspension, Luis Enrique seems content enough to rely on academy boys Rafinha and Munir El Haddadi. Munir impressed with a goal on his Nou Camp debut against Elche last week and given that he’s still only 18, looks to be a valuable asset, should Enrique continue to nurture this young talent.
While Villarreal also have an unbeaten start to the season, they’re without the injured Bojan Jokic, Hernan Perez and Pablo Iniguez. They can draw heart from the fact they gave their visiting opponents a good run for their money in this fixture last season, before being beaten 3-2. Not only that, but Giovani dos Santos was outstanding against Levante and will be confident off getting his name on the score sheet this weekend.
Villarreal manager Marcelino Toral will adopt an attacking approach in the hope of upsetting Barca this weekend, and will be confident in doing so after a good run last term. However, Luis Enrique’s men look to be in good shape and look refreshed thanks to a few new faces who’ve added another dimension to their play. And with Messi on goal-scoring form again and the return of Neymar, it’s not difficult to see Barcelona leaving El Madrigal with another three points in the bag.