Lionel Messi’s sixth triumph in the FIFA The Best gala yesterday evening can only get better if his Barcelona side will better their struggling campaign with a win over Yellow Submarines tomorrow at 00:45 NST. The Argentinian won the prestigious award over rivals Virgil Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo with 46 points compared to Van Dijk’s 38 and Ronaldo’s 36. Although Messi’s astounding individual brilliance made him the most deserving candidate, Barça’s lackluster season wrap-up followed by an everlasting national disappointment had made the walkover uncertain, with Virgil Van Dijk enjoying the highest of successes in his career.
The season has changed, but the circumstances haven’t. As Messi travels back to Camp Nou with his new teammate and FIFA World XI inductee Frenkie De Jong, he’ll have less to celebrate and more to repair. After being ruled out of the 19/20 campaign early on with multiple injuries, Messi’s Barça are on to their worst start in 25-years domestically and barely survived the Signal Iduna Park scare on the European opener. Barcelona kick off their 6th game of the season against 7th placed Villarreal from the 8th spot of the Liga table.
Ernesto Valverde’s job may be on the line if this doesn’t go the home side’s way, but Lionel Messi’s comeback league game at the Camp Nou is what makes this fixture tilted to Barça’s lines. After an embarrassment to Granada, this might well be a chance for this Barça side to return for a comeback, with their leader back on the side and looking to lift the whole side up to domestic glory, as he’s been doing for quite long.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Firpo; Vidal, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suárez, Griezmann
Villarreal (4-3-3): Asenjo; Peña, Albiol, Torres, Quintilá; Anguissa, Iborra, Cazorla; Chukwueze, Gerard, Ontiveros
Recent League form:
The two teams played out a 4-4 draw in their last clash back in April, with Messi and Luis Suarez scoring late to see Barca claim a point on their travels. Barca have won each of the last eight La Liga meetings between the two sides at Camp Nou, though, including a 2-0 victory in the corresponding game during the 2018-19 campaign. Villarreal’s last La Liga success at Camp Nou was back in March 2008 when former Denmark international Jon Dahl Tomasson scored the winner against a Barca side that included the likes of Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Andres Iniesta and Samuel Eto’o.