Luis Enrique’s side face their first away trip of the season on Sunday with a trip to El Madrigal to face Villarreal, which has proved a tough ground since the “Yellow Submarine” were first promoted to the top flight at the start of the century. Since then, Barça have played Villarreal 28 times, winning 14 games, drawing 6 and losing 8 times. At El Madrigal, Barça have won 7 times, drawn 2 games and lost on 5 occasions.
The team’s last visit was marked by the passing away of Tito Vilanova a few days before the game. Despite going 0-2 down, Barça pulled by to win 2-3 thanks to own goals from Gabriel and Musacchio and another by Messi.
Over the last decade, Barça have visited El Madrigal nine tines – Villarreal spent 2012/13 in the second tier – winning 5 times, losing 3 games and drawing once. The previous ten years saw some great games, with Frank Rijkaard’s side losing 3-0 in the 2004/05 season, with the side returning the next year to win 0-2. Another defeat in the 2007/08 season (3-1), saw Bojan Krkic make his full league debut and score his first goal at 17 years of age.
Since 2008/09, Barça have come out on top at El Madrigal, closing a tough series of games with a 1-2 win (with goals from Keita and Henry) en route to their treble winning campaign. After that, Barça won 1-4 in 2009/10 and 0-1 in 2010/11, although a goalless draw the following season, when Villarreal were relegated, put a big dent in the team’s league prospects.