Barcelona v Villarreal – Camp Nou at 17:30 live at Sky Sports
Luis Suarez scored twice as Barcelona moved back to the top of La Liga after a 3-0 derby win at Espanyol at the weekend. With Real Madrid having produced a late victory over Valencia earlier, the pressure was firmly back on Luis Enrique’s side.
Unlike at Malaga, there was no slip-up as the Catalans kept their composure to secure a well-earned victory following a tricky opening 45 minutes. The league leaders then kicked-on after the interval, netting three goals without reply.
Barca were without captain Andres Iniesta through injury, but had Brazil forward Neymar available again following his suspension. And the win moved the Blaugrana back level on points with Real Madrid, top on head-to-head record, but having played a match more than their title rivals.
Next up is a tough test from Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine kept their quest for Champions League qualification alive with just three games to play and although the Yellow Submarine’s hopes of reaching Europe’s elite competition next season appear slim, don’t expect Fran Escriba’s troops to give up the ghost.
The visitors are fifth following a fifth success in six and eighth triumph in 11 when comfortable dispatching struggling Sporting Gijon at their formidable Estadio de la Ceramica home.
Villarreal boast a wonderful record on home soil but have also avoided defeat in games as guests at Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla already this season, losing just once in seven encounters with the top-four (W2-D3-L1).
Escriba’s side have returned 15/35 (45%) clean sheets on La Liga duty this term with Atletico Madrid (25) the only side conceding fewer goals (28). In fact, no team in Spain’s top-flight have shipped fewer goals (10) in away games and Saturday night’s encounter is unlikely to be a home walkover.
Still, the bookmakers believe Barcelona will cruise to victory and have handed the Blaugrana a large -2.5 Asian Handicap hurdle to beat here. Considering the hosts have passed that line in 30/55 (55%) Camp Nou outings under Luis Enrique, it seems a little steep.
Villarreal have lost by three clear goals on only three occasions since November 2015 – a run of 90 matches – and is evidence enough to throw our support behind the Yellow Submarine with a +2.5 start at odds of 1.84 on Saturday night.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Villarreal -2.5 Asian Handicap (1.84)
Prices correct at time of writing.