Ernesto Valverde’s job is on the line as the Catalans sit with just seven points on the board through five matches, boasting just a couple of competitive victories this season and coming off the back of a humiliating 2-0 loss at Granada at the weekend.
Villarreal actually make the trip sitting a point better off than their opponents, having scored back-to-back wins over Leganes and Valladolid.
Will Barca’s crisis amplify or can this be the beginning of a turnaround for the defending Primera Division champions?
|Game||Barcelona vs Villarreal|
|Date||Tuesday, September 24|
|Time||8:00pm BST / 3:00pm ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports / beIN Sports en Espanol||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the match will be shown live on Premier Sports 2 and Premier Player HD.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Premier Sports 2||Premier Player HD|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Ter Stegen, Neto|
|Defenders||Pique, Lenglet, Semedo, Junior, Todibo|
|Midfielders||Busquets, Arthur, Roberto, De Jong, Vidal, Alena|
|Forwards||Griezmann, Fati, Suarez, Messi, Dembele|
Lionel Messi, newly anointed as FIFA’s The Best Men's Player, is fully fit and after two appearances from the bench will be thrust into the starting XI in his side’s hour of need.
Junior Firpo is set to continue at left-back due to the absence of Jordi Alba, though he had a difficult first start for the club at the weekend.
Ousmane Dembele is available off the bench but Samuel Umtiti is out.
Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Junior; Roberto, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann
|Defenders||Pena, Albiol, Torres, Quintilla, Funes Mori, Florin|
|Midfielders||Zambo Anguissa, Iborra, Chukwueze, Cazorla, Gomez, Ontiveros, Morientes|
|Forwards||Moreno, Toko Ekambi, Bacca|
Alberto Moreno misses out due to injury, while Bruno Soriano and Ramiro Guerra are also both on the sidelines.
Sergio Asenjo will continue in goal, having started the season as second choice.
Villarreal starting XI: Asenjo; Pena, Albiol, Torres, Quintilla; Zambo Anguissa, Iborra; Chukwueze, Cazorla, Ontiveros; Moreno
Betting & Match Odds
Barcelona are strong 2/7 favourites to win this match with bet365 . Villarreal are an 8/1 outshot, while the draw is on offer at 11/2.
The stakes are high as Barcelona host Villarreal at Camp Nou on Tuesday, with defeat likely to mean a premature end to Ernesto Valverde’s stay at the Catalan club.
With seven points in five matches, Barca are already said to be in crisis, particularly as they were comprehensively outplayed in last weekend’s Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund, a match in which goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen allowed them to secure a 0-0 draw.
The hosts should feel fortunate that Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid – their chief rivals for the title – have also stumbled out of the blocks and they are not already facing an intimidating deficit to make up as they seek to preserve their status as Spanish champions.
Valverde is under no illusions as to his current job security.
“It’s nothing new,” he argued. “There’s a huge demand on all of us coaches, even more so at Barcelona. I’m in a position where results matter. It’s time to get over this pothole.”
Playing away from home has proven to be particularly problematic for Barca this season, with the Catalans having scored successive 5-2 victories over Real Betis and Valencia in their only previous outings at Camp Nou this season.
Indeed, Villarreal boss Javi Calleja was at pains to point out that Barcelona’s problems have very much been a case of travel sickness.
“It’s true they would have wanted a better start to the season, but it’s been away from home that they have been touched,” he said. “At home, they’ve shown their potential and their quality. They’re one of the best teams in the world. We’ve started well but we know what Barcelona are.”
While the Yellow Submarine may have picked up a head of steam thanks to a draw against Real Madrid followed by wins over Leganes and Valladolid, Calleja predicts a very different type of match in store for his side.
“They base their game on possession, with great individuals, and that demands that we’re perfect to get a positive result,” he said.
If Villarreal do manage the perfect game, it will very likely be the end for Valverde at Barca. Even early in the season, there is much on the line.