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Barcelona will welcome 5th-placed Villarreal to Camp Nou on Saturday, as they look to pull away from Real Madrid in the race for the La Liga title.
Luis Enrique’s men are currently on top of the Liga standings but are level on points with 2nd placed Real, who do have a game in hand. However, Barcelona will want to put pressure on their bitter rivals by establishing a three-point lead with a win against the Yellow Submarine, even if it is temporary. They come into the game on the back of a 3-0 win over Espanyol in the Catalonian derby and will look to carry the momentum into Saturday’s encounter.
There were reports of Andres Iniesta suffering a leg injury last week, but he is fit and back in training. Jeremy Mathieu is a doubt due to an ankle problem, while Rafinha and Aleix Vidal are the only long-term absentees.
The German has missed just two league games over the course of the season and has kept 13 clean sheets. He will start between the sticks on Saturday.
The academy graduate has been impressive in the last 2 games. He will once again be starting at right-back position. His forward runs will be key for Barca’s attack.
The Spanish international has been one of the most consistent players for Barcelona this season. He will start against Villarreal though.
Arguably the best defender for the Blaugrana this campaign, the summer arrival has enhanced his reputation boundlessly. He will partner Pique at the heart of the defence.
The left-back slot will be taken up by Jordi Alba. Ever since his return to the line-up, there is an added dimension to the Barca attack, thanks to his marauding forward surges down the left-side.
The Spaniard will once again anchor the midfield for the home side. He will act as the connector between the defence and the attack.
The Croatian international has gone off the boil in recent weeks, but still remains Enrique’s best option ahead of Andre Gomes and should start on Saturday.
The final midfield slot will be occupied by Denis Suarez. The 23-year old will be keen on doing well against his former club.
The little magician will take up the spot on the right-flank but is likely to drift in centrally to pull the strings for Barcelona.
Hadn’t been among the goals of late, but a double against Espanyol last week will have done him a world of good. More goals on the cards for the Uruguayan.
The Brazilian returned from suspension last week in the derby and added a clinical edge to the Barcelona attack. He will be a huge threat from the wide areas.