Villarreal will provide toughest test for Barça
Saturday 02 January 2010
Barcelona will parade the six trophies they won in 2009 in front of their own supporters in the Nou Camp ahead of tonight's match against Villarreal before beginning the impossible job of trying to top last year's achievements.
Coach Pep Guardiola begins the year with a squad hit by injuries and African Nations Cup call-ups, against one of the club's most difficult opponents in recent seasons. Villarreal are the only side Barça have failed to beat at the Nou Camp over the last two campaigns. Ernesto Valverde's side have taken at least a point from six of their last 10 visits.
Guardiola will be without Yaya Touré who is on international duty with the Ivory Coast and Mali international Seydou Keita, who is injured. Andres Iniesta will have a late test before the game and Leo Messi, who was granted extra time in Argentina, is also expected to miss out.
Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Barça's two-point lead can be over-turned. He said: "In theory the fixtures in the second half of the season could favour us but we have to just concentrate on winning all our games and not worrying about what Barcelona are doing."
Real Madrid can take advantage of any slip tonight by the champions when they face Osasuna away tomorrow. Ronaldo will lead an attack that could be boosted by the return of Kaka, back in training after being sidelined by a hip injury.
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