To survive another disaster season, Barcelona will strive to emerge victorious against the yellow haunted submarine, where ghosts of Paco Alcacer, Santi Cazorla and Gerard Moreno will easily scare the already low morale, coachless, Messi-dependent senile Barcelona.
Villareal are more dangerous than they look on papers, and certainly more dangerous than Barcelona (without Messi). According to Statsbomb, Villarreal boast second-best xG (expected goals) in laliga (despite their games against laliga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.)
To put it into perspective, here is a snippet from Statsbomb.com website.
When players are more powerful than the coach
Against a corrupt President, this scenario is somewhat positive but players cannot solve everything. Coach and players should work to stay on the same side because it is all about betterment of the logo on the front.
While Messi is on the pitch, Suarez will be his side kick, doesn’t matter how badly we want the Uruguayan off the field when he is not performing well. Hopefully Antoine gets to participate few decisive minutes on the field, preferably as second striker. In yesterday’s press conference, coach admitted he cannot “always” play Griezmann despite his “extraordinary” talent. Setien further added “Griezmann should accept limited game time” because “he cannot play everyone.”
As we evolve and get used to Barcelona’s club de amigos philosophy, we dare to dream Riqui Puig on the field (which is likely to happen today considering how he impressed against Celta and Atletico) over Rakitic. Martin’s mentality could also be put to good use, if only.
Eder Sarabia is no Germán Adrián Ramón Burgos, but he deserves some respect. A coach and his staff need to find tactical solutions off the field and while on the field there needs to be executive agreement.
Messi has again found himself in the middle of a political milieu. His shadow political role will no longer be latent as rumors of his exit surface the headlines. Only time will tell how strong of an influence these headlines generate but amidst board members resignations, coronavirus pandemic, Messi exit rumors, re-election and Xavi, on field policy makers will still try to solve the stagnant defensive blunders apparent in almost every game Barcelona plays. If they do not address this seriously then Villareal’s ruthless counterattacking will see Barcelona side slip away from title chances, if there is any at this moment.
The Yellow Submarine
The yellow submarine have considerably shortened their passing distance over the months, a lot more than their last season because, not only do they counter attack well, they build up intelligent chances. Starting from the goalkeeper, splitting center backs, high pressing full backs, dropping in defensive midfielder and LM (mostly) aiding the transition — this is a common sight in VIllareal builld-ups. Their transitioning is aided with players (including forwards) ready to find spaces and distributing in narrow space. Their innovative style also includes executing third man passes during build up.
Calleja’s Villareal are a work of art. Fifth in the league so far, they have won four of their last five matches with clean sheets. Their draw against Sevilla saw them score and concede a couple of goals respectively.
Paco Alcacer, who discovered his form while in Dortmund, will test himself fiercely against his former club and is the one to watch out for today.
Umtiti will not be available for this game because of a fresh calf injury and partnering with Pique will be Frenchman Lenglet, thank goodness. Frenkie De Jong is still out with a calf injury and Ousmane is deregistered. Barcelona have added several youngsters to the 24 member team, one of whom will be left out as new rules only allow 12 men on the bench.
Villareal: Asenjo, Gaspar, Raul, Torres, Moreno; Chukwueze, Iborra, Anguissa, Santi Cazorla; Paco Alcacer, Gerard Moreno.
Barcelona: MATS, Sergi Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Puig; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann.