After a tumultuous transfer saga involving Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and others, Barcelona finally start their La Liga 2020-21 campaign with a clash against Villarreal even as Ronald Koeman tries to put up a good guy face. (More Football News)
Messi tried to leave Camp Nou, but Suarez was "kicked out". Then there were others who also became casualties in Koeman's Catalan overhaul, like Ivan Rakitic (to Sevilla), Arturo Vidal (to Inter Milan), Arda Turan (to Galatasaray), Nelson Semedo (Wolves), Arthur (Juventus), Carles Perez (Roma), etc. They have also welcomed Miralem Pjanic (Juventus), Trincao (Braga), Matheus Fernandes (Palmeiras), Pedri (Las Palmas), etc. But the pre-season build-up was dominated by the Messi saga, followed by the clearing out.
Now, after a couple of warm-up wins and Joan Gamper win, the Blaugrana face Unai Emery's
Villarreal early Monday morning (India time). This is a new season and a new start. But fault lines are still visible after that humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League. And Messi remains the epicentre. He might not have buried the hatchet after that failed attempt to but Lionel Messi has promised Barcelona he will give his all in the coming season, which is sure to be his Last Dance.
So all eyes, as usual, will be on Messi.
Meanwhile, after a slow start under former Arsenal boss Emery, Villarreal beat Eibar 2-1 to register a first win. They were held to a 1-1 draw by promoted Huesca in the opener.
With that here's everything you need to know about the match:
What: Barcelona vs Villareal, La Liga 2020-21
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona
When: September 28 (Monday), 12:30 am IST.
How to watch on TV: Not available in India. beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport Football (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain).
How to stream: Facebook Live (India). fuboTV (USA), beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Premier Player (UK), Movistar+ (Spain).
Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Neto; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, De Jong; Griezmann, Coutinho, Ansu Fati; Messi
Villarreal (4-4-2): Asenjo; Gaspar, Funes Mori, Torres, Estupinan; Chukwueze, Coquelin, Parejo, Gomez; Alcacer, Gerard.
Barcelona 3-1 Villarreal
And key stats:
- Barcelona have not lost in their last 22 La Liga games against Villarreal -- 16 wins and six draws.
- Barcelona's last defeat against Villarreal came in March 2008 at Camp Nou (1-2).
- Emery has lost each of his 12 away games at Camp Nou in all competitions.
- Koeman has failed to win his three games as a manager against Villarreal in all competitions (D1, L2)