Madrid, Jan 31 (IANS) FC Barcelona and Villarreal face each other Sunday evening in what is a dress rehearsal for the Kings Cup semi-final between the two sides.
Both Barca and Villarreal booked their places in the last four of the knockout competition during the week as Barca knocked out Atletico Madrid, while Villarreal beat Getafe, reports Xinhua.
It promises to be an entertaining tie between two sides which like to play a passing game, but before the business of the Cup, both sides have to focus on the BBVA Primera Liga, where Barca are battling for the title and Villarreal a place in the top four.
Barca are second in the table and Luis Enrique’s side have enjoyed a turnaround in form in recent weeks following the mini-crisis which surrounded the club after their defeat away to Real Sociedad in the first match of the year.
That turnaround may be due to the calmness which has come following the decision by club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to call for elections at the end of the season, but it is more likely a result of the fact that Luis Enrique has largely ditched his policy of squad rotation and tried to play a more settled starting 11.
That has benefited everyone with the defence looking more stable and cohesive, the midfield more creative and complete, whilst the attacking trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi is now the threat on the pitch that they looked to be on paper.
Whilst it’s true Suarez has not scored the goals that were expected of him, the Uruguayan has contributed with his movement and has provided more than his share of assists.
Meanwhile, Messi has outscored Cristiano Ronaldo by two goals to one in 2015, whilst Neymar has been a revelation.
“He’s still progressing and he’s making the difference in this Barca side, which isn’t easy when you are just 22 years old,” said Barca captain Xavi Hernandez, who nevertheless, believes the turnaround in recent weeks has not been so important.
“The results have changed, but if we had won in San Sebastian people would be talking about a great run of form. We were not so bad in the past and we are not so great now,” he said.