Sunday is a big day on the calendar for Real Madrid and Barcelona. Over in Italy, the two top contenders in Serie A, Lazio and Juventus, were both in action. Now it’s La Liga’s turn for what could be a season changing day. Juventus steamrolled on Saturday, while Lazio got steamrolled, so it was a big day for Juve. They are clear of Lazio by 7 points now. We were on Juve in that one and stayed away from Lazio. In other words, it was a good day of handicapping on the pitch in Europe. I’ve yet to lose a selection in Serie A. We’ll pass on Italy today and head to Spain for some La Liga action.
There are four fixtures on the card today in La Liga, with Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid opening up the day, and Villarreal and Barcelona closing things out on Sunday night. It’s a crucial day for both squads. Barcelona needs help from Bilbao on Sunday. They are going to need help along the way through the rest of the schedule. Real Madrid are clear of Barca by 4 points, so trading wins and losses does no good. This is the same scenario as Serie A on Saturday. Juve had a 4-point lead going into the day as well.
If the end result is the same as in Serie A, Real will have a comfortable lead in La Liga. Barca cannot afford to get that far behind. There are just five matches left on the calendar, so today could be a major turning point in Spain. Barca are coming off two disappointing draws against Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo. There’s nothing wrong with Atletico Madrid, and I think they’re not getting enough respect in Spain. However, Celta Vigo should have been a club that Barca buries, especially given what’s on the line against Real Madrid.
This fight isn’t over yet for Messi and company, though. With a record of 21-7-5 and 70 points, they’re still alive in the hunt for the La Liga title. Real Madrid and Barcelona are both clear of the rest of the field in La Liga. If Messi gets hot, who knows what happens down the stretch here. They’ve just really seen out of sync since returning from the break.
Yes, they’re an older team, so a lengthy layoff probably doesn’t help, but Ronaldo is no spring chicken and he is in prime form right now. Barca will travel for a meeting with Villarreal at El Madrigal on Sunday evening. Villarreal are coming off a 2-0 win over Real Betis on Wednesday. They’ve been in fine form since returning. Head below for our free Villarreal vs. Barcelona pick for July 5, 2020 in La Liga.
Villarreal vs. FC Barcelona La Liga Betting Odds:
Villarreal vs. FC Barcelona Prediction:
Villarreal welcome Barcelona on Sunday with a record of 16-6-11 and 54 points for fifth in La Liga. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how Villarreal have played this season. They’re just not in the upper echelon with Real Madrid and Barcelona, but are comfortably situated in the next tier. They’re 3 points back of Sevilla and 8 points of Atletico Madrid.
Villarreal aren’t catching Atletico, but a case can be made for Sevilla. They’ve been sharp with five wins and a draw since returning from the lockdown. Villarreal’s best win of that bunch was against Valencia on June 28.
Their last meeting against Barcelona resulted in a 2-1 loss. Two early goals by Barca set the tone for the rest of the match. Villarreal is expected to be without defender Ramiro Funes Mori and midfielder Vicente Iborra on Sunday due to injuries. Their presence would help against a Barca squad that are likely going to be playing a desperate brand of football today. Villarreal are a putrid 0-6-15 against Barca in 21 matches.
If there is any moment for Barca to put their recent struggles in the past and get hot, it has to be today because they are going to run out of room rather shortly if they are in mediocre form again. I have an inclination that Messi is going to be too much of a force for Villarreal to handle here.
Barcelona have been average on the road in the 2019-20 La Liga campaign, with 1.5 goals scored per match and 1.31 goals conceded. Overall, they’ve netted 2.24 goals per match and conceded 1.06. Barca can’t afford to get distracted or have a sloppy effort on the road in this one.
Villarreal has scored 1.94 goals per match and conceded 1.19 goals at home this campaign. Overall on the season, Villarreal have a goal differential of +13, while Barcelona are an impressive +39, though we haven’t seen much of that same prowess since the return. Expect to see Barca in top form on Sunday, though. Desperation mode has to be setting in for Messi and his teammates. Quique Setien’s seat is going to be blazing hot if poor form for his side persists in this one. However, I think Barcelona has something left in the tank and come to play.