Barcelona were aggrieved by several refereeing decisions in their 2-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao Reuters

Barcelona continue their pursuit of La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a trip to El Madrigal to face Villarreal on 8 January.

Where to watch live

Kick-off is set for 7.45pm GMT. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 2 HD.


Villarreal returned to action after the winter break with a 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad in the first leg of the Copa del Rey round of 16 in midweek. The Yellow Submarine have lost seven of their last meetings with Barcelona in all competitions.

Roberto Soldado, Denis Cheryshev and Bruno Soriano are all carrying injuries and are unlikely to feature against Barcelona.

Barcelona face an uphill task to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey after they were beaten 2-1 by nine-man Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the round of 16 at San Mames on 5 January. The Catalan giants have won only one of their last four away matches across all competitions.

Luis Enrique has no fresh injury concerns.

What managers say

Fran Escriba: "It is important that we look to score. We must defend as much as possible, but also try to score. We are good enough to score a goal [against Barcelona] and the idea is to win. The theory is known, but sometimes it is not easy to apply to the field. The difficulty is huge, but I think we can hurt them." [via Marca]

Luis Enrique: "I bet that there's no team who will win every remaining game but it's true we're not in the position we like to be. We can only put pressure on the leaders by winning every game. We're not going to win every game this season, we wish we could but it won't happen, there's a long season still to go." [via Goal]

Form guide

  • Villarreal (all competitions): LDWWW
  • Last result: Real Sociedad 3-1 Villarreal (Copa del Rey)
  • Barcelona (all competitions): LWDDW
  • Last result: Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Barcelona (Copa del Rey)

Betting odds (Betfair)

  • Villarreal win: 5/1
  • Draw: 7/2
  • Barcelona win: 11/20

Team news

Villarreal possible XI: Asenjo; Gaspar, Ruiz, Musacchio, Costa; Dos Santos, Trigueros, Castillejo, Soriano; Sansone, Pato

Barcelona possible XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Gomes, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar