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Barcelona vs Villarreal: Match preview, predicted lineups, key stats, prediction

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Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Im

Date and time: 22 May 2022, 10:00 PM CET
Venue: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga
Referee: Jose Luis Munuera Montero

Overview

A topsy turvy 2021/22 season finally comes to a close for FC Barcelona on Sunday when they take on Villarreal at home. The Catalans have been far from perfect this season but have certainly had their moments to cherish.

A win on Sunday would be the perfect way to end the campaign, for it would see them sign off on a five-game unbeaten streak. Yet, The Yellow Submarine are no pushovers and will look to steal three points from Xavi’s side.

What to expect from Barcelona?

Despite not having the entire squad at his disposal, Xavi will be relieved to have the services of Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong and Jordi Alba once again. All three players are expected to jump back into their starting lineup against Villarreal.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has maintained 11 clean sheets in 34 league starts this season and will look to improve that figure. The German made three vital saves against Getafe and will be pivotal on the night.

Xavi had to call on Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza to assume duties at centre-back in the last matchday. The latter was by far and large the best player during the game, helping the team maintain a clean sheet.

On Sunday, the manager will have Araujo back in action alongside Mingueza. Dani Alves is expected to start at right-back, with Jordi Alba taking charge on the opposite flank.

Sergio Busquets will likely anchor the midfield, accompanied by Frenkie de Jong who returns after serving suspension. The Dutchman’s future has been under a cloud of doubt over the past few weeks, and he will look to make a statement with his display.

De Jong’s last game with Barcelona? (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Gavi will complete the midfield trio, most likely from the left side.

Rumours say that Ousmane Dembele could be on his way to Paris in the coming weeks. He will start on the right-wing in what could be his final game for the club.

Meanwhile, Ferran Torres will start on the left-wing. The lineup will be rounded off by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the striker.

Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Dembele, Aubameyang, Torres

What to expect from Villarreal?

Unai Emery will continue to stick to his 4-4-2 formation that took the team to the semifinals of the Champions League.

Geronimo Rulli will start in goal against Barcelona, guarded by a back-four.

We expect Pau Torres to start as the left centre-back and will be under the spotlight. He will be placed alongside the experienced Raul Albiol in central defence.

Pervis Estupinan is expected to start as the left-back at Camp Nou, while Sergi Aurier will be allotted defensive duties on the right side.

In midfield, Villarreal will have Dani Parejo to count on. The Spanish international has been one of La Liga’s best players for years now and will look to make a big impact against Barcelona. He will start in the double pivot alongside Etienne Capoue.

This double pivot will be flanked by Francis Coquelin on the left and Samuel Chukwueze on the right. Giovani Lo Celso is expected to start as one of the front two, partnered with Boulaye Dia.

Possible Villarreal lineup: Rulli; Aurier, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan; Chukwueze, Capoue, Parejo, Coquelin; Lo Celso, Dia

Marquee player

Raul Albiol

La Liga royalty. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

At 36, Albiol has been the best player for Villarreal this season, guarding the yellow submarine with his life.

He’s been one of the best defenders in the league, and arguably in Europe, averaging a tackle and four clearances per game. Barcelona will need to be at their absolute best if they want any chance of penetrating Albiol’s guard.

Match facts

Barcelona previous games: LWWWD

Getafe 0-0 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 3-1 Celta Vigo | La Liga
Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 2-1 Mallorca | La Liga
Barcelona 0-1 Rayo Vallecano | La Liga

Villarreal previous games: LLDWL

Villarreal 1-2 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Rayo Vallecano 1-5 Villarreal | La Liga
Villarreal 1-1 Sevilla | La Liga
Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool | UEFA Champions League
Alaves 2-1 Villarreal | La Liga

Head to head record

Villarreal 1-3 Barcelona | La Liga 2021/22
Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona | La Liga 2020/21
Barcelona 4-0 Villarreal | La Liga 2020/21
Villarreal 1-4 Barcelona | La Liga 2020/21
Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal | La Liga 2020/21

Key Stats

  • Barcelona are unbeaten in their last four games.
  • Villarreal have not kept a clean sheet in their last six games.
  • Barcelona have won their last five games against Villarreal.
  • Barcelona have not lost against Villarreal in their last 20 meetings.
  • Villarreal have not kept a clean sheet against Barcelona in the last six games.

Prediction

With key players back in the side, expect Xavi’s men to make a statement in their final game of the season. While it could be the final game in red and blue for many players, it will be an opportunity to prove their worth for others.

Barca Universal prediction: Barcelona 4-1 Villarreal

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