Unai Emery is under no illusions how tough Sunday’s match against Barcelona will be for his Villarreal side.
The game, due to be held at the Camp Nou, will be Barcelona’s first in LaLiga Santander this season, whereas Villarreal have already played two.
When looking ahead to Sunday’s meeting, Emery picked out the possible threats facing Villarreal, including that of Lionel Messi.
“Messi is going to have his connections on the pitch and his individual chances to score,” Emery admitted.
“Whether that’s with shots or his combinations with [Jordi] Alba, Sergi Roberto, [Antoine] Griezmann or just himself.
“He’s a player who always causes problems and that’s going to be the case for the whole 90 minutes.
“He’s still a very tricky player [to face] – a player that we think has been and continues being the best in the world.”
Under Emery, Villarreal will be looking to push on after their fifth place finish in LaLiga Santander last season.
“We’re excited and optimistic coming into this,” the Villarreal boss added.
“The league is always open, but you first have to remember that Real Madrid ended last season strongly and that Barcelona still have great players, which is why [those two] are the favourites [to win the title].
“Then you have Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and the teams that want to take our place.
“We have to go up a level, we want to keep climbing and Sunday is a good test to see how we’ll respond.”