Predicted XIs: Xavi Hernandez to drop Sergio Busquets for Barcelona-Villarreal

Barcelona are in desperate need of a reaction against Villarreal this season as they look to close the gap to Real Madrid back to three points this evening.

Following a tough two weeks in Catalonia and a defeat in El Clasico, Xavi Hernandez and his side are obligated to put in a performance against Villarreal simply to calm the noise surrounding the club. The Blaugrana have won just one of their last four.

One of the chief points of discussion has been Sergio Busquets. Barcelona’s captain looked slow and impotent against Real Madrid and Mundo Deportivo expect him to be dropped for Gavi this match, with Frenkie de Jong moving into the pivot role.

That is one of three changes, the others seeing Marcos Alonso replacing Alejandro Balde and Ansu Fati coming in for Raphinha. Xavi is still missing Ronald Araujo, Memphis Depay and Andreas Christensen, but Hector Bellerin has returned to the squad.

Diario AS believe that Jordi Alba will be the chosen left-back and also see Ferran Torres playing ahead of Ousmane Dembele on the right of the attack.

Unai Emery is without key striker Gerard Moreno, Juan Foyth and Francis Coquelin through injury. Nico Jackson and Arnaut Danjuma are likely to continue up front, with impressive youngster Alex Baena tipped for a starting spot.

The Yellow Submarine are also looking for an improvement – their win against Osasuna was their first in five matches. The gap to the top four is already five points too.

Tags Barcelona La Liga Villarreal
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