As relegation threatened Villarreal host leaders Barcelona in the Cerámica, we have a look at possible line-ups, injuries and suspensions.
Villarreal host Barcelona at the Cerámica this evening (kick-off at 21:30 CET) in desperate need of three points to reignite their survival fight after Celta clawed back some distance at the weekend by winning the relegation shoot-out between the sides.
Unfortunately, Barcelona cannot afford any slip-ups despite a 10-point advantage over Atlético, precisely because they host Diego Simeone’s second-placed side in a few days. Leo Messi, thusly, will not be rested on the east coast and it is expected that Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal will all feature despite being one caution away from suspension but Luis Suárez may be handed a rest in the Cerámica after coming back from injury against Espanyol with the Argentinean possibly starting as a striker.
Villarreal boss Javi Calleja has a raft of important players on the treatment table and will have to fashion an XI from what he has available for the visit of the champions-elect.
Villarreal team vs Barcelona (confirmed)
Starting XI: Asenjo, Mario Gaspar, Alvaro, Funes Mori, Victor Ruíz, Iborra, Pedraza, Toko Ekambi, S. Cazorla, Morlanes, Chukwueze
Subs: Andrés, Quintiallá, Cáseres, Raba, Martín, Baccca, Bonera
Barcelona team vs Villarreal (confirmed)
Starting XI:Ter Stegen; Jordi Alba, Busquets, Lenglet, Sergi Roberto; Arthur, Umtiti, Vidal; Malcom, Coutinho, Suarez,
Subs: Iñaki Peña, N. Semedo, Piqué, I. Rakitic, Messi, Prince y Aleñá
Villarreal vs Barcelona: injuries and suspensions
Villarreal have Víctor Ruíz, Santiago Cáseres and Vicente Iborra both walking the disciplinary tightrope while Bruno Soriano, Manu Trigueros, Migeulón, Gerard Moreno and Jaume Costa are all sidelined.
For Barcelona, Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Piqué and Arturo Vidal are all one yellow card away from missing the crunch clash against Atlético in Camp Nou on Saturday. Ousmane Dembélé, Rafinha and back-up keeper Jasper Cillessen are all unavailable for the visitors.
Villarreal vs Barcelona: what the managers said
Javi Calleja: “We have to be bold; if we play with fear we’ll regret it. If you play with fear they are more comfortable and if they are comfortable it will be very difficult. We need to press them, prevent them from settling and use the ball well. We have to make them uncomfortable and not allow them to play their game.”
Ernesto Valverde: "We're placing a lot of importance on this game. There are people who have set their sights on the Champions League and Atlético, but this game is very important. It doesn't escape me that our rivals are waiting for a slip-up to feed their hope of catching us. We should not give them that chance."