After winning comfortably against 18th-placed Mallorca, Barça host 19th placed Leganés hoping to continue the successful restart. Here’s the preview of Tuesday’s match between Barcelona and Leganés.
Date and kick-off time: Tuesday 16 June 2020, 22:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou, Barcelona
Competition: La Liga, matchday 29
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
Barcelona ran riot at San Moix, beating Mallorca four goals to nil, in what was a perfect start after the break. The culés could not have asked for more. The 98-day-break which was feared to disrupt the rhythm of the team, only made them fitter and more ready for the highly packed schedule. The team showed flexibility and assurance. There was no real sign of laziness or complacency, with almost all players performing to the fullest.
After a fantastic reopening, Barça now prepare to reopen the gates of Camp Nou to Leganés. Barcelona play at their home ground under closed doors for the first time since hosting Las Palmas in 2017. Despite the game being for the fans first, it is necessary to keep the clock ticking despite the inability to accommodate them. The Camp Nou, even without culés chanting and cheering, will always be Barça’s home, giving them a feeling that they can dominate any opposition.
❛ We would prefer there to be fans, it takes the essence out of the game, but we know why that’s not possible. I hope it doesn’t affect us and we play well and win. We just have to adapt ❜
on playing at an empty Camp Nou
While the Catalans come into the game on a winning note, Leganés lost to Valladolid in the last matchday. To add fuel to the fires, they are equal on points with last-placed Espanyol after the later won surprisingly. Coincidently, this was the case when Barça met them in the reverse fixture. Two teams with two different goals meet under unfamiliar circumstances here at the Camp Nou.
What to expect from Barcelona?
After the Mallorca game, the vibes have been high, and the fans’ confidence on the team has increased a bit. It was not a picture-perfect display from the Catalans, but it gave a feeling that good things are on its way. The way Barcelona lined up, the flexibility in transitions and the compactness in defence were all pleasing to witness. The fact that there were very less misplaced passes, with 89% accuracy showed that the team was in sync, even after months apart.
❛ Except for a few specific players, who we all know, no name in the squad is fixed. I want everyone to participate and I want everyone to keep their desire and eagerness to continue. Any player could start ❜
Of course, like every other performance, there were shortcomings. The joy of seeing Barça again overshadowed these in the first game, but in upcoming games, the team has to improve. The significantly slow build-up, the detachment of midfield from the defence in possession are some of the areas which can be improved. Coach Quique Setién has to figure out Antoine Griezmann’s role in the team soon, as Barça cannot waste a player of his quality on the wings.
Setién, in his press conference, has admitted to planning on making changes and giving everyone an opportunity. Players who did not feature from the start in the Mallorca game might get the nod here. Junior Firpo will fill in for the suspended Jordi Alba on the left-back slot. Clément Lenglet might get into the eleven after serving a suspension of his own. Luis Suárez and Samuel Umititi are on the brink of suspension and will miss the Sevilla game if they get booked here. The manager will have the urge to experiment and will do so with the title race in mind.
What to expect from Leganés?
Leganés have been struggling this season from the beginning and have tried to react by changing managers. While it seemed to be working, the winter transfer market hit them hard. They lost one of the best players in Youssef En-Nesyri to Sevilla in the transfer window. And unfortunately, Barça added salt to the wound by getting Martin Braithwaite off the window citing the injury to Ousmane Dembélé. La Liga denied a replacement for Lega, and the club got stranded without their two best players.
They are missing the strike force, as they have scored only 22 goals this season with ten coming from this duo. Manager Javier Aguirre has concentrated on a solid defence by turning to a back-five, like most relegation battlers. Although he played a four-man backline vs Valladolid, he might revert to his compact five-man-defence keeping it tight and harder to break. Knowing Barcelona’s weakness while dealing with low-blocks, the Mexican might employ a sit-back and counter tactic.
Leganés will be without their best man, Óscar Rodríguez, suspended | Photo by Joaquín Corchero Arcos via Imago
Óscar Rodríguez has taken over the mantle of carrying the attack and is currently their most proficient attacker. But, unfortunately, the Madrid loanee got suspended for the clash. Either Miguel Guerrero or Guido Carrillo will have to take his place in attack. Dimitrios Siovas got his fifth yellow in the 96th minute of the last game to rule himself out of this one. The manager might choose to rotate for the Mallorca game on Friday where they have more than realistic chance of getting crucial points. That said, Barça should never underestimate the relegation battlers in the league as they are known for causing unexpected upsets.
Last 5 games: WWLDW
Mallorca 0–4 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Real Madrid 2–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Napoli 1–1 Barcelona | Champions League
Barcelona 5–0 Eibar | La Liga
Position in La Liga
61 points in 28 games
19 wins, 4 draws and 5 losses
67 Goals Scored, 31 Goals Conceded
+36 Goal Difference
Last 5 games: LWDLD
Real Valladolid 2–1 Leganés | La Liga
Villarreal 1–2 Leganés | La Liga
Leganés 1–1 Alavés | La Liga
Celta de Vigo 1–0 Leganés | La Liga
Leganés 0–0 Real Betis | La Liga
Position in La Liga
23 points in 28 games
5 wins, 8 draws, 15 losses
22 Goals Scored, 41 Goals Conceded
–19 Goal Difference
❛ My only plan is beating Barcelona tomorrow ❜
Leganés manager on Monday’s press conference ahead of visiting the Camp Nou
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 5–0 Leganés | Copa del Rey
Leganés 1–2 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 3–1 Leganés | La Liga
Leganés 2–1 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 3–1 Leganés | La Liga
• Barcelona are undefeated in their last 26 home matches in La Liga
• The Catalans have scored at least three goals in their last three home matches against Leganes in all competitions
• Leganés have won only once in their last six games
Team news and possible line-ups
Injured: Ousmane Dembélé ( hamstring )
Suspended: Jordi Alba
Sergi Roberto · Piqué · Lenglet · Junior Firpo
Arthur · Busquets · De Jong
Messi · Suárez · Braithwaite
Coach: Quique Setién
Injured: Alexander Szymanowski
Suspension: Óscar Rodríguez, Dimitrios Siovas
Rosales · Bustinza · Omeruo · Awaziem · Jonathan Silva
Ruibal · Rubén Pérez · Recio · Assale
Coach: Javier Aguirre
Camp Nou has always been Barcelona’s castle which got barely breached. They have not lost at their home ground for some time now and would prefer not loosing on their first night back from the break. On paper, the clash looks pretty simple for the blaugranas and will be the case with Leganés missing some players. The writer’s prediction is 3–0 for the Catalans.
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.