Barcelona now face the yellow submarine, in what will be Xavi’s second league match and the first away game in charge. After a disappointing yet promising showing in the Benfica game (0-0), Xavi’s men would try to finally get a convincing win. Villarreal on the other hand, have endured a shaky start to the season. The current Europa League champions, they currently sit 12th in the league with 16 points(Barcelona are 7th with 20 points). They are second in their UEFA Champions league group, and face a similar situation like Barcelona
Something about Unai Emery
The four time Europa League Champion, and a one time Ligue 1 winner, Unai Emery is no doubt an excellent coach. A highly versatile manager, he has managed budgetless to teams with unlimited budget, with success here and there.Edinson Cavani, who worked with Emery at Paris Saint-Germain, said of the Spaniard: “From the moment Unai arrived at Paris, he showed his passion for football. I really liked his way of working. It’s the small details that determine these kinds of games; they are won in the small aspects, and for that you need to be very focused. He’s a hard-working coach and that is why he has won titles, trophies, wherever he’s worked.”
Under Emery, Villarreal generally play with a 4-4-2, with a high defensive line in an attempt to play possession and defend away from goal, increasing their emphasis on an aggressive press, and to minimise spaces between the lines to enhance not only their defensive strength, but their ability to transition into counter-attacks via the spaces they can create.
This 4-4-2 midblock, has been proven to be Emery’s most successful tactic till date, Here we see their most important players this season-
The 24 year old dutchman signed from Bournemouth this season, has been the signing of the season. Quick, pacey, he’s a really good attacker, and has netted 7 goals and registered 3 assists in all competitions. Arriving from the English Championship, he has taken LaLiga by storm, and has taken no time to settle in. Certainly their most potent threat, Barcelona’s defence have a real headache tomorrow.
Is it even a surprise to see Dani Parejo here? The 32 year old spaniard has been one of the best LaLiga midfielder since many years. Still going strong, he’s the centre piece of Villarreal’s midfield. A good ball regulator as well as a good passer, he has always been a threat to Barcelona (or any other team) since his Valenica days.
Among Spain’s best young centre backs, the 24 year old is also one of the best defenders in LaLiga. A monster on the ball, his ability to protect and steal the ball is brilliant. Key for Villarreal’s defence, him alongside Raul Albiol would try to stop Barcelona’s attack in full strength. Pau’s record versus Barcelona is not that good, but He’ll try to improve it certainly.
Surely this game versus Villarreal will prove to be a tough test. Xavi’s men will have to pass this test at the La Ceramica at all costs, to prove their worth for the title.