Barcelona, after picking up their first victory of the season against a rigid Cadiz side, are now set to encounter Villarreal away from home in what is expected to be a nail-biting affair.
Villarreal are currently being led by Quique Setien, former manager of Barcelona.
The coach experienced a tough spell in Catalonia, but he played a key role in steadying the sinking Yellow Submarine last season, helping them land a fifth-place finish.
Setien talks Pedri, Raphinha
Ahead of Barcelona’s trip to El Madrigal, Setien addressed the press (h/t AS), to give his two cents on the upcoming matchup between two Spanish giants.
“To beat teams like Barcelona, you have to play a great game, and you also have to see how they are doing and what point of inspiration they have. They are teams that, even when they are well, are difficult to control”. he added.
The Catalans have been hit with a number of casualties, with Xavi and Raphinha suspended for the game, while the likes of Pedri and Araujo sustained untimely injuries.
Setien expressed that their absences could help tilt the outcome but did not downplay the formidability of the opposition at hand.
He shared: “They have a great squad, but it is true that they have important casualties. This is the case with Raphinha, who played a great game here last year. But we know that they have high-quality players on the bench who can replace them without problems.
“In the case of Pedri, he does seem to me to be a differential player. I’m not happy that he got injured, but it’s a relief. We already saw him here last year, and we are aware of his ability to read football near the penalty area. He is an extraordinary player, so it is a relief that he is not playing ”.
Last season in May, a first-half strike from Pedri allowed the Catalans to grasp a narrow 1-0 win over the Yellow Submarine; therefore, his absence does bode well for the hosts. Raphinha also played a pivotal role in securing a victory at home.
No resentment towards Barcelona
Setien was in charge of Barcelona back in 2020, taking over from Ernesto Valverde. It was during his ill-fated tenure that the Blaugrana suffered the 8-2 hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich.
There were also a lot of murmurs of unrest in the dressing room during his time which eventually came to an end ahead of the 2020/21 season.
But the Cantabrian further stated that he held no resentment against Barça, despite the bitter ending he faced after getting the sack.
“I have no rivalry with Barcelona. Barcelona are an entity with prestige of many years and a lot of history. I was at that club for a while, eight or nine months, and I’m delighted to have gone through and lived that story. Nothing else,” he said.