Barca hopes to bounce back against Villarreal

Barcelona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Barcelona suffered its first loss of the La Liga season last time out, and the Catalans will hope to rebound on Saturday when the club welcomes Villarreal to Camp Nou.

Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain produced the loan goal in the club's 1-0 defeat of Barcelona in its last league outing, a result that allowed Atletico Madrid to go level with the reigning champions atop the table on 40 points apiece.

Now, Barcelona will be looking to get back in the win column against the promoted side, but history indicates that Villarreal may not be such a pushover.

In the 1998-99 season, Villarreal, which had only just gained promotion to the top flight, earned a shock 3-1 win at Camp Nou that saw the home crowd vent their frustration on Barca manager Louis van Gaal.

Goals may also be hard to come by for the home side in this particular contest. Besides the absence of Lionel Messi, Barcelona is looking at a potentially low-scoring affair on Saturday given Villarreal's stout defense that ranks third in the Spanish top flight behind the Catalans and Atletico.

Atletico Madrid does not take to the pitch until Sunday when it hosts Valencia at the Vicente Calderon, meaning that the club will know what result it needs to keep pace with, or move ahead of, Barcelona.

Real Madrid is in a sublime run of form that has seen the club win five successive La Liga contests, a run that it will look to extend on Saturday when it heads to El Sadar to face Osasuna.

Also on Saturday, Malaga hosts Getafe at La Rosaleda and Rayo Vallecano takes on Granada at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.

Sunday's action will see Real Sociedad welcome Real Betis to the Anoeta, Athletic Bilbao travel to Sevilla and Almeria square off with Espanyol.

Monday's lone match will pit Celta Vigo against Valladolid while Friday's only contest saw David Barral net a brace in Levante's 2-1 defeat of Elche.