The side, coached by Luis Enrique, is level on points with Real Madrid but have played one more game. As a result, they have to win their three remaining matches while hoping Madrid slip up between now and the end of the campaign.
With Madrid facing already relegated Granada on Saturday in a game where they are clear favorites to take an easy win, the pressure on Barcelona is even greater as they host a Villarreal side with their own ambitions for the season.
The visitors are currently fifth on the table and battling for a place in next season’s Europa League, however, they are just five points behind Sevilla, who have still to visit Real Madrid. If they can win and Sevilla lose in Madrid and in another of their remaining matches, they could still repeat last season’s top four finish.
Villarreal also travel away with the second best defensive record in La Liga and will be a tough nut to crack, as they have shown in their recent win away to Atletico Madrid.
Barca have no new injury worries and have been playing some of their best football of the season, with recent wins away to Real Madrid and local rivals Espanyol to back that up.
The week has not been without its problems. The news that Spain’s public prosecutor has asked for a two-year jail term for striker Neymar in relation to alleged corruption surrounding his transfer from Sao Paulo is compouded by the revelation that club President Josep Maria Bartomeu is also to face charges.
The club has so far managed to avoid off-field issues affecting their displays on the pitch, but against a side which defends well and has talent up front in the form of Roberto Soldado and Cedric Bakambu, Leo Messi and company need to be at their best in order to keep their title hopes alive and kicking.