Barcelona vs Villarreal Prediction: Back big Rob to grab a couple

 | January 26 | 

6 mins read

mack sochon la liga tips

Barcelona may not be in the finest of form at the moment but a home match against Villareal should be just what the doctor ordered to help them get back on track.

Our La Liga expert Mark Sochon provides his detailed preview ahead of Saturday's match...

Barcelona vs Villarreal Betting Tips:

  • Back Over 3.5 Goals @ 4/5
  • Back Robert Lewandowski to score two or more @ 4/1

Barcelona return to the Estadi Olímpic on Saturday for their first home game of 2024 after a bruising seven game streak of matches outside the Catalan capital.

They’ve been everywhere from Barbastro and Salamanca to Gran Canaria and even Riyadh, with little time to rest in between games, so it perhaps wasn’t a huge shock to see them run out of steam in Extra Time in Bilbao on Wednesday night in the Copa del Rey.

Barca finished that game with two 17-year-olds in defence as they lost 4-2 in a tie they’d once led thanks to a fine strike from 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.

The defeat makes it hard to see a realistic path to a trophy for Barca this season, but a favourable run of fixtures over the next fortnight does give them the opportunity to apply some pressure on Girona and Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

That run starts on Saturday with a home game against Villarreal and a match between two teams with similar strengths and weaknesses. Both sides are scoring freely but neither looks even remotely convincing in defence.

Since beating Atlético Madrid impressively in early December, Barcelona have had three games that have felt genuinely big. They conceded four in each of them and lost the lot, falling short against Girona in La Liga, Real Madrid in the Supercopa Final and Athletic in the Copa del Rey.

That speaks volumes as to where they’re at defensively right now and doesn’t exactly bode well for their chances of competing against the best Europe has to offer when the Champions League returns next month.

If Barca are a mess at the back, it’s hard to know what that makes Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine have been all at sea defensively all season and three different men have resided in the dugout without finding any real solutions.

They’ve conceded two goals per game on average in La Liga 2023/24, with only bottom club Almeria letting in more. They’re currently managed by the experienced and widely respected Marcelino but this feels like a personnel issue as much as anything with key players not replaced in the summer and the January signing of former Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has done little to improve matters so far.

It has been a miserable month on the pitch for Villarreal with just one point from three league games, none of which were against top six sides. They were also dumped out of the Copa del Rey by third tier Unionistas and they could well end this weekend in the bottom six and potentially in an unexpected relegation battle.

Barca will still have to show their opponents a bit of respect though. There are still a few surviving remnants of the Villarreal team that reached the Champions League Semi Finals in 2022 and they are the top scorers outside the top six with Gerard Moreno and Alexander Sorloth forming a very capable front two.

Team News:

Alejandro Balde is the latest man to go down injured for Barcelona. The 20-year-old could be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines but fortunately Joao Cancelo is now fit again to ease their

issues at full back. Marc-André ter Stegen should return in goal in February but will miss the next few matches with Íñigo Martínez, Raphinha, Gavi and Marcos Alonso also still sidelined.

Xavi is likely to rotate in some positions after the exertions of a Copa del Rey trip to Bilbao. Joao Felix, Oriol Romeu, Fermin Lopez, Sergi Roberto and Pau Cubarsi are all potential options in terms of freshening things up. Robert Lewandowski should continue up top though having only played 78 minutes in the cup.

Villarreal are also struggling on the injury front with the absence of regulars Dani Parejo, Juan Foyth and Yeremi Pino compounding their current issues. Denis Suarez, Alfonso Pedraza and Ramon Terrats are also sidelined while back-up keeper Pepe Reina has somehow managed to get himself a two game ban despite not actually appearing in the league this season.

Wolves loanee Goncalo Guedes is an option should Marcelino opt to change the eleven that was held at home by Mallorca last time out.

Match Odds:

Barcelona are clear 3/10 favourites to win this game with the Draw available at 5/1. You can back Villarreal to pile on the problems for Xavi and win at the Estadi Olimpic at 7/1.

Just about everything points to there being goals in this game. Both Teams to Score is priced 4/7 while you can use the #PickYourPunt builder to back Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals at 4/6.

Barcelona and Both Teams to Score is available at 6/5 while you can back Barcelona and Over 3.5 Goals at 11/10.

Robert Lewandowski is the 100/30 favourite to score first while you can back the Polish striker to score anytime at 8/11. There’s a strong chance we see Joao Felix rotate into the eleven here and he’s priced at 6/4 to score anytime.

From a Villarreal perspective, forward Gerard Moreno is likely to be their biggest goal threat and he’s 15/8 to score anytime.

Bet 1 - Over 3.5 Goals @ 4/5

Punters will be expecting lots of goalmouth action in this game with Barcelona coming into the game on the back of a 4-2 win at Betis, one of their best showings of the season in La Liga, before a 4-2 Extra Time defeat in the cup.

It’s just one clean sheet in eleven games now for the Catalans and much of the negativity around Barcelona does centre around those defensive issues which are compounded by the absence of a genuine holding midfielder.

However, there are positives for Barca at the other end of the pitch. They are creating plenty and the likes of Ferran Torres and Lamine Yamal have looked sharp in the final third in recent games to ease the burden on Lewandowski.

With two struggling defences and plenty of attacking quality on display, I’m backing Over 3.5 Goals at 4/5, a winning bet in Barca’s last four matches.

Bet 2 - Robert Lewandowski to score two or more @ 4/1

Another positive for Barcelona this month has been the return to goalscoring form of Robert Lewandowski. There are still serious questions about his role in this team and his all-round contribution, put purely in terms of his ability to finish chances, he has been much better in January with goals in four of his last six matches.

With Villarreal struggling all season to find a convincing central defensive pairing, there should certainly be opportunities for the former Bayern man in this game. He’s netted 17 times for club and country this term which is still a healthy return. He’s scored twice on two occasions at home in La Liga and against the second-worst defence in the division, I’m backing Robert Lewandowski to score two or more at 4/1 here.

You can check out Mark's La Liga Betting Tips along with those from the rest of the Betfred Insights Spanish Football writers on our La Liga home page...

Share Article

(Visited 68 times, 1 visits today)