Following an annihilation at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League, Barcelona are back in La Liga action against Álvaro Cervera’s Cádiz.
Date and Kickoff Time: 21st February 2021, 14:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga
Referee: Juan Martinez Munuera
The last time Fútbol Club Barcelona and Cádiz Club the Fútbol faced off, Ronald Koeman’s side were victims of an all too familiar foe in the form of defensive errors. Through Oscar Mingueza in the first half and Jordi Alba in the second, the Catalans’ abhorrent defensive display ensured that they would drop yet another 3 on the road.
Heading into tomorrow afternoon’s game, both sides find themselves in completely contrasting form, though perhaps equally dejected. Despite their harrowing loss at the hands of PSG in the UEFA Champions League, the Blaugrana have been in stunning form domestically, with a 7 game winning streak and scoring just under three goals a game with five in their previous outing.
Defensively, however, the Catalan giants — if they can be called that — have been anything but convincing. Not only did they concede four against Le Rouge et Bleu in midweek, but they have also kept just but a single clean sheet in their previous eight outings, and this too against third division side Cornellá in the Copa Del Rey.
Cádiz are a team of a much lower calibre than the Parisians they lost to, that much we can say affirmatively. Ever since the Garnet and Blue’s woeful display against them earlier in the campaign, El Submarino Amarillo have looked a far cry from that which set La Liga ablaze at the start of the campaign.
In the eleven games since then, the Andalusian outfit have recorded just but a single victory, tasted defeat a whopping seven times, conceding three or more in five of these, and drawing the remaining three. They have since scored a measly nine goals, conceding a staggering 25 and have gone on to win just six points from almost double the number of games.
What to expect from Barcelona?
The defeat to Paris has had a profound resonance within the fanbase, supplanting the newly found joy that was recently blooming within their hearts with nothing but despair, déjection and resentment. Up until last week, they were on top of the world, on a run of ten wins from eleven outings, only for the capital club to trounce all over them, and on their home turf no less.
The Catalans are in multiple crisis, with problems riddled throughout the squad both physically through injury, but mentally too with the scars of yesteryear being brutally opened in midweek. The injury concerns, particularly in defence, bring about the most worry. Ronald Araújo is a confirmed absence after missing out on the squad list.
Tomorrow is the perfect time for Koeman to make the best use of Barcelona’s squad depth as the Blaugrana are expected to make several changes to their starting eleven, all the way from the forward line to the back four, given the Blaugrana are set to play three games across seven days.
At right-back, despite a relatively sub-par performance, Sergiño Dest is must likely to hold down the fort against Cádiz. In central defence, by default rather than by design, Clément Lenglet might occupy the left center-back spot alongside Gerard Piqué, and rounding up the backline, Jordi Alba is most certain to take the reigns at left-back.
In midfield, there is a possibility that Ronald Koeman could start the trio of Frenkie de Jong, one of Miralem Pjanić or Pedri Gonzales — who might be in need of rest — and Riqui Puig. Rather than remain in a fixed zone, this is a flexible midfield that is well and truly capable of carving up their opponents.
In the final third, there is a high chance that Francisco Trincão will partner Lionel Messi — whose future is still up in air — given Ousmane Dembélé’s lacklustre performance against the French champions. On the left-wing, Martin Braithwaite might just take up the spot in the wing over Griezmann; however, if the Frenchman were to retain his spot, it would not at all come as a surprise?
What to expect from Cádiz?
Upon promotion to La Liga, expectations were high for El Submarino Amarillo. With their unique way of playing, prioritising defensive stability and offensive explosiveness through counter-attacks, they were a hot prospect coming into the campaign. Having overcome both Clasico rivals — and being the only team to do so thus far in La Liga —, they looked as though they’d be the Primera División’s equivalent of Sheffield United in the Premier League last season, however, things massively derailed following their win over Barça.
In the eleven games since that bizarre victory, they’ve tasted victory just once, and this too against Deportivo Alavés. This fall from grace is perhaps correlated with their gross overperformance in expected points, goals and goals against. Still, there might be issues tactically that compound their unpleasant football with their results, thus hampering their progress.
Despite their losing streak, Álvaro Cervera’s side do have a coherent and consistent way of playing. Generally set up in one of a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2, his team prefers the maintenance of a rigid defensive wall, one which translates to them creating chances from the wider areas in the form of counter-attacks.
They have an uncanny ability to create chances aplenty, taking advantage of the pace out wide to effectuate this. They attempt many crosses, particularly down the right flank where 40% of their attacks are generated, meaning that Jordi Alba will have to be on his toes for a large part of the game.
They are far from a possession heavy team, as they hold below 35% of the ball on average per game, one of the lowest in the entire division. Despite their chance creation, the finishing — or lack thereof — constantly leaves the viewer wanting, and once juxtaposed with their inability to take care of through balls, you have a team once set, and with all necessary ingredients for greatness, now seemingly doomed to failure.
Player to watch
In a team struggling for points, the 35-year old veteran is the man holding his team together in these tough times. He has scored six goals for his side at 4.3 xG, with an average of 0.26 xG per 90.
A man for the big occasions, Negredo has scored a goal against Barcelona in the humbling 2-1 loss, assisted their lone goal against Real Madrid and scored a brace against Atlético de Madrid, albeit in a game they lost. Low on confidence following yet another European humiliation, Barça should not let their guard down against him lest they risk losing their only — somewhat — realistic title opportunity this season.
Previous games: LWLWW
Barcelona 1-4 PSG | UEFA Champions League
Barcelona 5-1 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga
Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | Copa Del Rey
Real Betis 2-3 Barcelona | La Liga
Granada 3·5 Barcelona | Copa Del Rey
Position in La Liga
46 points in 22 games
14 wins, 4 draws and 4 losses
49 Goals Scored, 21 Goals Conceded
+28 Goal Difference
Previous Games: LLLLD
Cádiz 0-4 Athletic Club | La Liga
Real Sociedad 4-1 Cádiz | La Liga
Cádiz 2-4 Atlético de Madrid | La Liga
Sevilla 3-0 Cádiz | La Liga
Cádiz 2-2 Levante | La Liga
Position in La Liga
24 points in 23 games
6 win, 6 draws, 11 losses
20 goals scored, 39 goals conceded
-19 goal difference
Head to head record
Cádiz CF 2-1 Barcelona | La Liga 2020/21
Barcelona 1–0 Cádiz CF | La Liga 05/06
Cádiz CF 1–3 Barcelona | La Liga 05/06
- Barcelona are on a 7 game winning run in La Liga.
- Barcelona have never lost to Cadiz in La Liga.
- Cádiz have failed to win in either of their six matches.
- Cádiz are the only side to have beaten both Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga this season.
Injured: Ronald Araújo (ankle), Ansu Fati (knee), Philippe Coutinho (knee), Sergi Roberto (muscular)
Dest · Piqué · Lenglet · Alba
Pedri · De Jong · Riqui
Trincão · Messi · Griezmann
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Injuries: Álvaro Fernandez, Carlos Akapo, Luismi Quezada
Doubts: Jens Jonson, Alex Fernández
Suspension: Juan Cala
Iza · Acalá · Mauro · Espino
Sánchez · Jonsson · Fali · Perea
Negredo · Lozano
Coach: Álvaro Cervera
Barça had their spirits broken in humiliating fashion in what was once their fortress of solitude. While their form in Europe is nothing worth writing home about, their last few games in the league have been encouraging, as the last time Ronald Koeman’s side faced defeat, it was against Cádiz themselves all the way back at the beginning of December. Given the Andalusians’ recent games, and their sheer inability to keep a clean sheet, this ideally should be an easy win for Barcelona.
Barca Universal prediction: Barcelona 4-1 Cádiz CF
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Osasuna — Ilaix, Trincao to replace Pedri, Dembele
A last gasp equaliser brought action of the highest calibre into a dramatic game at the Camp Nou against Sevilla. With the odds against them, Ronald Koeman’s side once again overturned a deficit and came back to win the game. It had happened in Granada and it did happen once again, this time over two legs.
Emotions ran high, celebrations went beserk and rightfully so. It had been years since Barcelona experienced that kind of adrenaline and positivity about themselves. Kudos to Ronald Koeman, for he has instilled an unquenchable thirst amongst the same crop of players that were once said to be ‘mentally weak’.
The weekend promises to be an eventful one for La Liga. The scheduled Madrid Derby provides massive opportunity for both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid to drop points. Meanwhile, Barcelona will look to pick up all the three points away at Osasuna to bridge that gap. The League could be a realistic shot of this weekend goes as planned. Or so they say. Here is how Barcelona could lineup against Osasuna.
If anyone still has acquaintances who say Marc-Andre ter Stegen disappears in big games, do not hesitate to put forth the clash against Sevilla. At a time when everything seemed lost, Ter Stegen pulled Barcelona out of the mud again. A sensational penalty save under the highest of pressure. He will certainly hold onto his spot on Saturday.
Gerard Pique’s injury against Sevilla has now left him a doubt even for the clash against PSG next week. That said, Koeman could likely look to revert back to his 4-3-3 approach.
Oscar Mingueza and Clement Lenglet would be the best possible centre-half pairing given the options available. While Mingueza did indeed give away a penalty, his individual performance midweek was one of the highest quality. The youngster impressed yet again with his calm, yet ‘no nonsense’ attitude.
Lenglet on the other hand has been dormant for Barcelona. In recent weeks, despite not doing any harm, he has not even produced any match-defining moments. It does appear that the Frenchman is slowly regaining his confidence. Saturday will undoubtedly be a huge step forward for him if the Catalans do maintain a clean sheet.
Sergino Dest continues to be the first choice Right back this season, moreover so with Sergi Roberto injured. However, that spark going forward that the world witnessed in his first few games is now not to be found. The American international has been superb in defence, yet there is a sentiment that he is capable of so much more going forward.
Jordi Alba will continue to hold onto his spot at the left-back. Whenever Barcelona have found themselves in a pressure cooker situation, the Spaniard has stepped it up a notch. With yet another assist in his tally, Alba looks more confident than ever.
Despite all the criticism constantly hurled at him, Sergio Busquets has been almost flawless in his last few appearances. Defensively more solid than ever and actually now covering more ground than before, we could be seeing the resurgence of a new version of the Spanish defensive midfielder. He will start as the deep midfielder on the night
After an injury scare and another stressful game immediately after injury, Pedri might be rested on Saturday. In his place, one could expect Ilaix Moriba to get his second start. The La Masia talent has been mature beyond his years, and an influential cog in both of Barcelona’s wins last week. This could be his time to shine.
Frenkie de Jong will round up the midfield. The Dutchman’s renewed role has brought out the best in him as well as the team. He has now finally cemented his place as an undisputed and deserved starter in every game. He will play as the advanced midfielder on the night.
Antoine Griezmann has been benched for three starts in a row. Though the decision might be tactical, it clearly shows that if the coach has a high-pressure clash which is a must-win scenario, he doesn’t count on the Frenchman. Griezmann ultimately did come off the bench and deliver the assist for Gerard Pique’s last gasp equaliser. However, the #7 will be more determined than ever to find a way back into Koeman’s main XI. The first step to that goal? A great showing against Osasuna.
Lionel Messi will continue to lead from the centre forward role as he looks to extend his lead in the Pichchi race. The Argentine has had a sublime 2021, and a goal or two against Osasuna would reiterate his blistering form.
With Ousmane Dembele too suffering an injury scare, Koeman would prefer to stay on the conservative side. Fransisco Trincao provides a more than a potent backup option, and the Portuguese winger could get a start come Saturday on the right-wing.
Griezmann · Messi · Trincao
Ilaix · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Pique · Dest
Riqui Puig has not been used in the past few games, understandably due to the physicality involved in these clashes. Tonight could be the time to once again unleash the youngster in the latter half of the game.
Miralem Pjanic is back from injury, and has received the medical green light. The Bosnian could replace Sergio Busquets in the second half to provide the Spaniard with some much-needed rest and rotation.
Ousmane Dembele could too come on in the second half, to open up and exploit spaces if Barcelona are chasing a goal.