In his first league game in charge of the club he spent eight years playing for, Luis enriwue enjoy a glorious victory. A majestical Lionel Messi double helped Barceloa see off Elche at Camp Nou, and tomorrow his side travel away to Villarreal.
Marcelino Garcia Toral’s Villarreal side have too enjoyed a positive start to the season after impressively recording back-to-back victories in the space of a week. After seeing off Levante in a 2-0 victory, Villarreal secure their place in the Europa League group stages after an emphatic 4-0 triumph over Astana
Although Barcelona completed a league double over Villarreal last season, ex-Sevilla man Rakitic expects a strong test against a side led by Marcelino, one of his former coaches at Sevilla. Villarreal are a strong team, led by a strong manager, who work on all aspects of the game making them a sure fired challenge to the Blaugranas.
Villarreal’s manager will be hoping that two former La Masia graduates, Giovani dos Santos and Javier Espinosa, can prove a point against their former club. La Masia product Espinosa joined the side this summer, tasting first team football in the clubs preseason friendlies against Swansea and Sassuolo, scoring a goal and looking particularly promising against the Italians.
Giovani, an attacking midfielder, made his FC Barcelona first team debut in a preseason match back in 2006, he even managed to get on the scoresheet. He is most remembered for a brilliant hat-trick against Real Murcia in the 2007/08 league season, as well as for scoring the winner against Stuttgart in the Champions League. The season after, he embarked uon a journey around an array of different clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Ipswich Town, Galatasaray, Racing Santander and then Real Mallorca to eventually join Villarreal in 2013. He is displaying fine form at his new club, scoring a goal against Astana in the Europa League preliminaries.
In terms of Barcelona, Neymar has been named in Barcas 18-man squad, but the team are without influential midfielder Andres Iniesta who has been suffering from a knee injury.
The Brazil forward, 22, has been named in an 18-man squad for Sunday's trip to Villarreal, but Barca are without influential midfielder Andres Iniesta. Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring) and Marc-Andre ted Stegen (back) also remain sidelined. Luis Enrique will unfortunately be without Argentine Javier Mascherano this weekend as he was sent off during the clubs 3-0 victory over Elche. In contrast, coach Marcelino has a fully-fit squad at his disposal for the Catalan giants visit.
Nevertheless, Luis Enrique is determined to continue distinguishing Barcelona as the exceptional team they truly are. When speaking about tomorrows La Liga clash at a press conference he said:
“We are looking sharp after a week where we have trained well. We know our rival (Villarreal) well and they are a strong team in the league. They had a good pre-season in terms of performance and results.”
“The game will not be easy for us but we are prepared and at the moment each match is a test for us. All teams with a new coach need time to adapt but that is something that I am not asking for.”
Predicted line ups
Villarreal: Sergio Asenjo, Rukavina, Jaume Costa, Victor Ruiz, Gabriel Paulista, Cani, Bruno, Trigueros, Uche, Dos Santos, Cheryshev
Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mathieu, Alba; Rakitic, Busquests, Roberto; Rafinha, Messi, Munir