Barcelona return to their cramped position in La Liga after a comfortable outing in the Champions League. The Catalans turn hosts this time around as they try to get back to winning ways in the league against Osasuna.
Date and kick-off time: Sunday 29 November 2020, 14:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga, Matchday 11
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Barcelona are in a precarious state in their campaign this term. The Catalans have more points, more wins and a better goal difference in the Champions League than they have in La Liga. Worst possible start to the season in decades, with injuries piling up amid a congested fixture list, Ronald Koeman and the players have a lot to figure out. But, first, they have to get back to winning ways in the league.
Osasuna visit the Camp Nou with memories of their last contest, confirming Real Madrid’s title last season with a 1-2 win. The visitors are on the same points as Barça, albeit playing an extra game. Their recent form has been a worry as they have only one win in their last five games much similar to the Blaugranas.
Barcelona’s memories against Osasuna are not pleasant. (Photo via Imago)
While Los Rojillos do not have the fixture congestion as the hosts, they have mirrored their injury problems and long time absences. Chimy Avila, Brandon, David García, Adrián López are injured and out of the clash. Jonathan Calleri, Aridane Hernández, Juan Pérez, Lucas Torró are doubtful for the game.
Barça’s injury list has dented the team significantly. While Ansu Fati, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto remain sidelined for months, there has been some improvement for the others. Both Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo have started the group training but will be a couple of weeks before they are match fit.
“Dest had some discomfort in his leg, but it is not a serious matter because he trained well today. If he is not well tomorrow, we will play someone else. We will not risk injuries.”Ronald Koeman | Pre-game Presser
Sergio Busquets is given the medical green light for this clash after recovering from a knock in International duty. Despite initial reports of an injury, Sergino Dest has made the squad list after having trained with the group before the game.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Ronald Koeman decided to field a second-string eleven against Dynamo Kyiv and rested his most-played players. Both Frenkie de Jong and Lionel Messi got a well-deserved rest after playing almost all games this season. So, both players will be fit and raring to go this weekend in La Liga. With the return of Coutinho, the front four seems to take shape in the absence of Ansu Fati.
“Hopefully tomorrow Messi and De Jong can offer their best because we need them.”Ronald Koeman | Pre-Game Presser
While there are options aplenty in the attack, the defence still seems shaky and not enough for top La Liga sides. Óscar Mingueza could continue to partner Clément Lenglet after impressing midweek. If Dest is not fit enough to start either Mingueza or de Jong will fit in at right-back. Carles Aleñá could get another run in the pivot with Miralem Pjanić if de Jong fills in at defence. Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba would be the only two regular starters in the backline.
Personnel issues aside, Barcelona have struggled tactically this season. While they breezed past Dynamo Kyiv in the previous game, they still provided the opponent with plenty of easy chances. The erratic pressing and loss of intensity after some point results in the opposition carving open the Barça defence with as little as a one-two pass. The manager should work on these and make sure the pressing works against tactically drilled La Liga sides.
What to expect from Osasuna?
Jagoba Arrasate’s Osasuna have been excellent in the top flight since getting promoted. After finishing an impressive 10th place last time, they are in the bottom half of the table this season, just below Barcelona. Injuries to crucial players have dented their fortunes this season, and their recent form is not helping the team.
When the last time the two sides met, the visitors won with only 20% possession, had more shots on target and scored a goal while a man down. Arrasate understandably would go with the same approach this time around as well. Whether the formation is 3-5-2 or 4-4-2, Osasuna will pack the middle to restrict the Blaugranas from breaking lines and going through the centre.
With a lack of possession and territory, Osasuna will look to go long moving the ball direct while counter-attacking. The visitors being aerially dominant, will often look to cross into the box. They do take a lot of shots confidently but are often prone to miss big chances. In this particular match, Osasuna’s game plan would work with ease if they hold their shape well in defence and successfully get into scoring positions.
Player to watch
Budimir has scored one of the only two goals Atletico Madrid have conceded this season. (Photo via Imago)
Osasuna have a lot of tall players ready to nod the crosses they put in. Ante Budimir is among the tallest of the lot, standing tall at 6’2″. The Croatian has played their last three games scoring one goal against Atletico Madrid past Jan Oblak. He is not afraid to take shots as he leads the team in shots per game.
One of the main reasons for his threat is the lack of height in the Barça defence. With Gerard Piqué out, the aerial presence at the back is severely low, and the Croat could take advantage of the situation.
Previous games: WLWWD
Dynamo Kyiv 0–4 Barcelona | UEFA Champions League
Atletico Madrid 1–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 5–2 Real Betis | La Liga
Barcelona 2–1 Dynamo Kyiv | UEFA Champions League
Deportivo Alavés 1–1 Barcelona | La Liga
Position in La Liga
11 points in 8 games
3 wins, 2 draws and 3 losses
15 Goals Scored, 9 Goals Conceded
+6 Goal Difference
Previous games: DLLWD
Osasuna 1–1 Huesca | La Liga
Sevilla 1–0 Osasuna | La Liga
Osasuna 1–3 Atlético Madrid | La Liga
Osasuna 1–0 Athletic Bilbao | La Liga
Eibar 0–0 Osasuna | La Liga
Position in La Liga
11 points in 9 games
3 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses
8 Goals Scored, 9 Goals Conceded
-1 Goal Difference
Barcelona 1–2 Osasuna | La Liga 19/20
Osasuna 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga 19/20
Barcelona 7–1 Osasuna| La Liga 16/17
Osasuna 0–3 Barcelona | La Liga 16/17
Barcelona 7–0 Osasuna| La Liga 13/14
- Barcelona are undefeated in 33 of their last 35 home matches (LaLiga).
- Osasuna have failed to score in their last 3 away matches (LaLiga).
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 8 of Osasuna’s last 10 away games (LaLiga).
- Osasuna were unbeaten against Barcelona last season.
Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Gerard Pique (knee), Ansu Fati (knee), Sergi Roberto (hamstring), Ronald Araujo
Marc-André ter Stegen
Dest · Mingueza · Lenglet · Alba
Pjanic · de Jong
Dembele · Messi · Coutinho
Coach: Ronald Koeman
“If we maintain our rhythm with the ball, we will be very good. Sometimes we suddenly relax. The team needs to keep a constant level of intensity.”Ronald Koeman | Pre-Game Presser
Injured: Chimy Avila, Brandon, David García, Adrián López, Jonathan Calleri, Aridane Hernández, Juan Pérez, Lucas Torró
Roncaglia · David García · Raúl Navas
Nacho Vidal · Moncayola · Sanjurjo · Inigo Pérez · Jony
Budimir · Garcia
Coach: Jagoba Arrasate
Barcelona have been wayward in La Liga this season. They have performed against teams which like possession, but have struggled hard against low and medium blocks. Barça despite, having the ball, have been highly inefficient, moving it slow unable to break down the opponents. It would continue against Osasuna unless Ronald Koeman decides to do things differently.
Barça Universal prediction: 2–1 win for the Catalans
Copa del Rey final preview: Predicted Barcelona lineup against Athletic Bilbao
Barcelona continued their newfound pattern of turning off in the big games. Once again, the Catalans failed to turn up on a Clasico night, failing to pick up even a single point.
The worst way to head into a cup final is with a defeat in one of the biggest games of the season. Coming off a loss that potentially loses the title is not the way Koeman would have wanted to enter this week. However, Barcelona,s inability to turn up when it matters is now getting serious. It is far beyond the stages of misfortunes and well into the path of being a fact.
This is the managers only guaranteed shot at silverware. Yet, heading into this game, the atmosphere in the Catalan capital is nothing short of chaos. Sources close to the club are whining about the referee once again, days before the game. Jordi Alba’s weak mentality has once again come to the forefront with his latest leaked conversation with Gerard Pique that shows him giving up even before stepping on the field.
Barcelona needs to step out of this shadow of excuses. Being one of the biggest clubs in Europe mandates winning even in the most adverse conditions. It necessitates believing in oneself and the team more than anything else. Barcelona have choked in the final of the Supercup, in the game against Juventus, the first leg against PSG and both El Clasicos. It is high time they put those losses behind them and show the world they have not forgotten how to win trophies. Here is how Barcelona could lineup against Atheltic Bilbao.
Starting with the gloves on the night will once again be Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The German has once again come under scrutiny in recent weeks. If there is ever a chance for the goalkeeper to prove that he is invaluable on such big nights, Saturday night is that opportunity.
Gerard Pique’s participation continues to be under a heavy cloud of doubt. The Spaniard has still not recuperated completely, and rushing him would not be wise. Additionally, Sergino Dests rather meek showing against Real Madrid has Ronald Koeman contemplating a return to the 4-3-3 system for the upcoming clash. The 3-5-2 was never built to last in the first place, anyway. That said, Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet will be the starters in central defence.
While the Uruguayan has recently returned from injury, he still showed glimpses of his extraordinary pre-injury form once again. Lenglet, on the other hand, is finally coming into a confident frame of mind. The Frenchman never looked the same since the humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich. Now finally, he is once again defending with a much better mindset.
Meanwhile, Oscar Mingueza is coming off a textbook performance against a difficult real Madrid side. While a case can be made for Sergi Roberto, not rewarding the Spanish youngster after such a tremendous performance would be unfair. Moreover, Roberto is just returning from injury. A direct start in a cup final may not be the route Koeman wants to go down. That said, Mingueza could well start at right-back on the night.
Jordi Alba has been one of the best left-backs of the season, yet there is a massive sentiment that he shouldn’t start on the night. Watching a senior member of the dressing room talk so pessimistically ahead of a massive game is terrible news, both for the team and the fans. Yet, one knows that the Spaniard will start, mainly owing to the back of any able backups. He will be crucial, no doubt, however, the weak mentality is a matter of serious concern.
Sergio Busquets will start as the defensive midfielder at Estadio de la Cartuja. Up against the likes of Dani and Raul Garcia in midfield, and Inaki Williams constantly looking to break, Busquets will have to be inch-perfect with every step.
Frenkie de Jong will start in front of the veteran midfielder. Once again back in midfield duties, the 23-year-old will be crucial for the Catalans penetration into opposition territory. His guile and vision will be key on the night.
Pedri struggled in the first period of the Clasico yet came back stronger after a rough patch. The 18-year-old is one of the most promising prospects in world football. Once again, his consistency will be put to the test on Saturday. It could well be Pedri’s vision that is the difference between the two sides on Saturday.
Antoine Griezmann made the difference when these two sides met last, and everything signals that he may get his start again. The Frenchman did not get the chance to start the game against Madrid and will be eager to return in style.
Ousmane Dembele has had a renewed, though not very successful, stint as a target man this season. His pace has been the fatal spearhead for so many oppositions. Yet, a rather low conversion ratio is the thorn in the heel. If Barcelona is to walk away with a trophy, Dembele cannot be wasteful in front of the goal.
Lionel Messi will undoubtedly start in the forward line, aiming to win his first silverware in two seasons. The Argentine had a rather quiet outing is yet another Clasico and will be keen to shut critics once again with a game-defining performance. One of Lionel Messi’s greatest ever goals came against Athletic Bilbao in a cup final. Will Saturday bring more of the same?
Griezmann · Messi · Dembele
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Araujo · Dest
Ilaix Moriba has become to go-to man for Ronald Koeman in any midfield crisis. His never say die spirit and no-nonsense attitude have earned him a special place in the side. Moreover, he is a gifted young talent that deserves every minute he plays.
Riqui Puig would be another option to up the tempo of the game in the second half. The youngster could come on for Pedri and provide an immediate impact as he often has.
Fransisco Trincao and Martin Braithwaite could also be able weapons for the managers towards the latter part of the game.