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Primera División

Barcelona Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Villarreal

3:03 PM GMT 08/12/2017
Lionel Messi Barcelona
Everything you need to know ahead of the Primera Division clash at the Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday...

Barcelona will look to continue their unbeaten run in La Liga on Sunday when they travel to Villarreal.

Ernesto Valverde's side are top of the table and five points clear of second-placed Valencia after 14 rounds of matches, having won 11 and drawn three so far.

One of those draws came last weekend in a 2-2 tie at home to Celta Vigo at Camp Nou, but Barca extended their advantage at the top after Valencia lost at Getafe.

The Blaugrana are also six clear of Atletico in third and eight ahead of fierce rivals Real Madrid. And, on Tuesday night, Valverde rested a host of players as the Catalans ended the Champions League group stage with a routine 2-0 win over Sporting CP.

Now they return to action in La Liga and here, Goal takes a look at everything you need to know about Sunday's match at the Estadio de la Ceramica...


BARCELONA INJURIES


Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha are both back training with the group after lengthy spells out through injury, but the two are not ready to return to first-team action just yet.

Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano are stepping up their respective recoveries, but both are doubtful for the trip to Villarreal.

Samuel Umtiti is sidelined after picking up an injury in last weekend's draw with Celta.


BARCELONA SUSPENSIONS


Right-back Nelson Semedo will miss the first match of the last 16 in the Champions League with a ban after picking up a yellow card against Sporting on Tuesday, but Barcelona do not have any players suspended for the game at Villarreal.


BARCELONA POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP


Thomas Vermaelen will continue at the back for Barcelona with Umtiti sidelined through injury.

The Belgium defender replaced the France international in the 2-2 draw against Celta last weekend and also featured in the Champions League win over Sporting CP on Tuesday.

Valverde rested a number of players in that match, leaving Lionel Messi on the bench until the second half.

The Argentine will return to the starting line-up at Villarreal, as will Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Paulinho.


VILLARREAL TEAM NEWS


Villarreal are currently sixth in La Liga, seven points behind fifth-placed Sevilla, and progressed to the last 32 of the Europa League despite defeat at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday night.

The Yellow Submarine had already sealed top spot in their group and coach Javier Calleja rested players ahead of Sunday's game against Barca.

Andres Fernandez, Denis Cheryshev and Nicola Sansone are all sidelined and will play no part, while Carlos Bacca, Ruben Semedo, Samu Castillejo and Bruno Soriano are doubtful.

Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo could return to the starting line-up following a lengthy spell out to recover from a ruptured cruciate ligament (his fourth such injury) suffered against Real Madrid in February.

Villarreal have lost their last two in La Liga, going down 3-1 at Leganes last weekend and 3-2 at home to Sevilla in their previous fixture, that despite taking a 2-0 lead.


TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME


Villarreal versus Barcelona kicks off at 20:45 local time on Sunday and will be broadcast live from 19:40 UK time on Sky Sports Main Event and also on Sky Sports Football.

In the United States (US), Villarreal v Barcelona can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) and kicks off at 14:45 ET.


BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS


  • Villarreal are winless in their last 16 games against Barcelona in La Liga (having lost 11 of those). Their last win against the Blaugrana was in March 2008 at Camp Nou (2-1).

  • Barcelona are unbeaten in their last eight league visits to the Estadio de la Ceramica (previously named El Madrigal), but they have only won two of the last five (3-2 in April 2014 and 1-0 in August of the same year).

  • Villarreal have lost their last two La Liga games. The last time they lost three in a row in the top flight was in March 2012 under Jose Molina.

  • Javier Calleja will face Barcelona for the first time in his managerial career. The current Villarreal coach scored nine goals in his 192 appearances as a player in the top flight - two of them coming against Barcelona (4-4 in 2001 and 2-0 win for Villarreal in 2003, both played in Villarreal).

  • Lionel Messi has scored 11 goals against Villarreal in La Liga. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (12) has scored more goals against the Yellow Submarine than the Argentine.