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The FC Barcelona first team squad are in Villarreal. Their plane left El Prat airport at around 11.20am CET on Sunday morning to make what is the shortest away trip (apart from that to city rivals Espanyol of course) for a game that kicks off this evening at 8.45pm CET.

The players were greeted by large crowds both at Castellon airport and on arrival at their hotel.

And the pressure is on after Real Madrid continued their strong form with a 5-0 defeat of Granada on Saturday to momentarily go six points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, while Sevilla spent the night in second place after winning 4-0 at Real Sociedad.

Three points at El Madrigal would put Barça back in second and close the gap on Madrid to three points.

The travelling party is being led by vice-president Jordi Mestre in the company of fellow board members Enric Tombas and Xavier Vilajoana.

As for the playing staff, Luis Enrique named the following 18 players for the fixture: Ter Stegen, Masip, Piqué, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Arda, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes and Umtiti.

The side that waits them are having a fine season under coach Fran Escribá. They go into the game just five points behind the Catalans and have the best defensive record in the competition. But it’s nine years since Barça last lost at El Madrigal, and despite the difficulty, Luis Enrique is confident that his side can keep that positive record going.


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