After a run of three defeats in four games, Villarreal rounded off 2016 with some improved form that saw them move back up to 4th with seven points from their last three, the highlight of which was a 3-0 home win over Atletico Madrid. Barca had a sticky spell of their own towards the start of December as they drew three straight games, but they won their last two whilst scoring seven goals, having netted just twice in those three draws. They still trail Real by three points, while their Clasico rivals also have a game in hand.
Villarreal have won six of their eight home games so far and in fact have lost just four times at El Madrigal since the start of last season. Surprisingly none of those defeats came against the Big Three last term as Villarreal in fact picked up seven points at home to Barca, Real and Atletico, coming back from 2-0 down to rescue a point against the Catalans. Indeed, Villarreal have lost just three of their eight home games against Barca or Real since 2011/12 and with that in mind the champions look too short at 1.53.
Barca have already lost at Celta Vigo while they could only draw at Sociedad in their penultimate away game. Indeed, this is exactly the type of fixture Barca struggle in as they’re now W3-D2-L3 against teams between 4th and 9th since the start of last season, with each of those victories by just a single goal. As such, we’re going to back the hosts to pick up at least point, but for those looking to get Enrique’s men on-side, we’d advise backing the winning margin to be only one goal at 2.7.