Guardiola cautious ahead of Villarreal clash

Pep Guardiola has dismissed concerns over fielding a weakened team against Villarreal, but admits he is cautious ahead of the Monday night clash.

Barcelona go into the game without the injured defensive quartet of centre-backs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol and full-backs Maxwell and Adriano, whilst Dani Alves is suspended.

Reports indicate Guardiola may be looking to at least one of Andreu Fontas and Martin Montoya to start the Blaugrana’s first home game of the League campaign, with Javier Mascherano maintaining his place at centre-back, and Eric Abidal potentially taking the other central defensive position.

Concerns are that a repeat of last season’s opening game to Hercules is likely. Against the eventually-relegated side, a severely weakened side fell to a surprise 2-0 home defeat, one that currently sticks out as their only defeat at the Camp Nou in two years.

Guardiola has responded to suggestions of a possible repeat result against the Yellow Submarine with confirming his confidence in those players available to him: “I have to assume that when we have lost, it is not because my players have relaxed or switched off, but because the rival has been better. We are crippled by our team selection, but there are alternatives and we can relocate players. I have great faith in the team that will play.”

However, he remains cautious of the opposition on Monday, and has admitted that Villarreal are one of the ‘worst possible opponents’ to face with such an injury crisis: “Villarreal are a Champions League team that have for years caused problems for us. [Juan Carlos Garrido] doesn’t have Santi Cazorla anymore, but still has two very good strikers [Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi], players with experience and a strong goalkeeper [Diego Lopez]. Another fact that you know very well is that I like the way they play.”

Barcelona-Villarreal match preview

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