The penultimate game of the La Liga campaign is upon us. Barça still sit four points behind leaders Real Madrid, in a title race which seems to be over realistically. However, the Catalans need to win every game to at least keep the point difference intact. Here’s the preview of the match between Barcelona and Osasuna.
Date and kick-off time: Thursday 16 July 2020, 21:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga, matchday 37
Referee: José María Sánchez Martínez
Although mathematically not done yet, Real Madrid more or less have the La Liga trophy in the bag. They are four points ahead, and a win or one Barcelona slip away from sealing the championship this matchday. With nothing in their hands at the moment, Barça can only hope to win the two remaining games, and make sure to pick up some form for the impending Champions League clash against Napoli on August 8.
During the visit to Real Valladolid last matchday, Quique Setién and Barcelona showed some improvisation and tactical flexibility in the first half. Setién started with the system he implemented when he joined, with a back three and Sergi Roberto as a false right centre-back, but soon went back to the regular formation once Antoine Griezmann got injured at half-time. Valladolid bettered their gameplan and grew into the game to make things difficult for Barça, but the visitors scraped through for a one-nil victory.
Aged 16, Ansu Fati scored his first Barcelona goal in a 2–2 draw against Osasuna earlier this season | Photo by Jess Diges via Imago
Now, Barcelona turn hosts as Osasuna visit the Camp Nou on Thursday night. Of the three clubs which got the promotion last term, Granada and Osasuna have positioned themselves very well in the middle of the table, much to everyone’s surprise. With a win, the visitors could even step into the top half of the table. In the reverse fixture, the blaugranas drew 2–2 at El Sadar, with midfielder Arthur Melo coming off the bench to bring some life into the game. Now, at the Camp Nou, with a better and fit squad, the result might not be the same.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Barcelona have shown glimpses of brilliance over the last few fixtures, but have not stamped their authority yet. With the 3–5–2 system during the opening moments of the Valladolid, the players were very mobile and often found themselves in attacking zones. Barça successfully evaded the press and were creating excellent chances. Right-back Nélson Semedo got the free attacking role he craved and shone brightly till the change of system. Even with the deep defence, Barça were able to break lines and get into dangerous zones.
Due to the injury to Antoine Griezmann and change in the system for Pucela, Barça switched to their usual system. They lost their bright attacking energy and dropped to defend the relentless attack of the hosts. What seemed like an easy win, ended up being a scraping one-nil victory. This time around, the Catalans’ squad is much better, as Frenkie de Jong, Arthur Melo and Ansu Fati return for contention.
The comeback of the Dutchman is especially exciting as he could play in the hybrid centre-back / midfielder role Sergi Roberto has been taking up recently. He occupied a similar position in Ajax, and the culés could finally see him in full strength. However, it is unlikely that he will start the game, but could see some minutes for sure. Ansu Fati returns from suspension and fills the void of an injured Griezmann.
“To be honest, the league is almost impossible because there are only two games left”
If Quique Setién feels that the 3–5–2 is the way to go with no proper wingers, then he should make the team comfortable with the system before the all-important Champions League duel. Fixing his best eleven is necessary while competing in knockout tournaments. Even though the La Liga title is out of reach, the season is far from over, and he must prepare the team for the same.
What to expect from Osasuna?
Having been relegated to the second tier of Spanish football in the 2016/17 season, Osasuna fought their way back to the top division as Segunda champions. Jagoba Arrasate got the reins of the team in June 2018 and successfully steered them back to La Liga last campaign. This term not only have they successfully stayed up, but they have also kept themselves well clear of the drop zone with a possible top ten finish.
“Regardless of what happens in these two matches, the season will have been very good, but it is true that tomorrow we have the opportunity to put the cherry on top of the cake”
Osasuna coach in press conference before visiting Barcelona
Osasuna are a tricky side to face in La Liga. They play with a lot of heart and defend with all their men. While they prefer to play without the ball, they are no slouches on it. With a squad with considerably height advantage, they tend to stretch the defences using their width and put in dangerous crosses into the box. With attackers like Chimy Ávila, Roberto Torres and Rubén García, they are not afraid to have a go at the goal from range.
“All that’s obtaining points will be a surprise”
on Osasuna’s chances in the game against Barcelona
However, for this encounter, Osasuna miss almost half a dozen of players due to injury, which includes Chimy Ávila, their top scorer but who is recovering from a cruciate ligament tar. Alongside him, Marc Cordona, Robert Ibáñez, Unai García and Rubén García get sidelined too. Former Barça B winger or striker José Arnáiz, having scored his first goal for Los Rojillos in extra time in a 2–1 win over Celta de Vigo on the weekend, could start versus his previous club. The manager Arrasate is known to switch personnel and formations and could go with a back five against Barcelona.
Last 5 games: WWWDD
Real Valladolid 0–1 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Espanyol | La Liga
Villarreal 1–4 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 2–2 Atlético de Madrid | La Liga
Celta de Vigo 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga
Position in La Liga
79 points in 36 games
24 wins, 7 draws and 5 losses
80 Goals Scored, 36 Goals Conceded
+44 Goal Difference
Last 5 games: WLDWW
Osasuna 2–1 Celta de Vigo | La Liga
Real Betis 3–0 Osasuna | La Liga
Osasuna 0–0 Getafe | La Liga
Eibar 0–2 Osasuna | La Liga
Osasuna 2–1 Leganés | La Liga
Position in La Liga
48 points in 35 games
12 wins, 12 draws and 12 losses
42 Goals Scored, 51 Goals Conceded
–9 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
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
Osasuna 0–0 Barcelona | La Liga, 13/14
• Barcelona have scored at least four goals in their last five home matches against Osasuna in all competitions
• Barcelona have won their last seven home encounters with Osasuna in all competitions
• Barcelona have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six home games in La Liga
• Thursday’s meeting is the last home clash for Barcelona in this La Liga season
Team news and possible line-ups
Injured: Ousmane Dembélé (hamstring), Samuel Umtiti (knee), Antonie Griezmann (aductor)
Semedo · Piqué · Lenglet · Jordi Alba
Sergi Roberto · Busquets · Riqui Puig
Coach: Quique Setién
“The fatigue is taking a toll on us and the players are saturated, which is normal because there are many encounters in few days”
Injured: Chimy Ávila, Marc Cordona, Robert Ibáñez, Unai García, Rubén García
David García · Raúl Navas · Aridane
Nacho Vidal · Moncayola · Fran Mérida · Lato
Arnáiz · Enric Gallego · Kike Barja
Coach: Jagoba Arrasate
Osasuna will have some key absences at the Camp Nou, as has been the case in recent weeks | Photo by David Ramos via Getty Images
The La Liga season is about to come to an end, and Barcelona’s eternal rivals might lift the trophy in this same matchday. There are little to no consequences for the result of this match, but Barça must not take it lightly and win at all costs. Quique Setién cannot take the visitors easily and must bring his A-game during the match to get a dominating triumph. The writer’s prediction for the game: 3–0 for the Catalans.
Barcelona vs Ferencváros: Match Preview
Just three days after the gruelling game away at Getafe, Barça are back in action again. Champions League starts once again, as the Catalans prepare for their first home game of the campaign. Here’s the preview of the match between Barcelona and Ferencváros.
Date and kick-off time: Tuesday 20 October 2020, 21:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Group Stage, Matchday 1
Referee: Sandro Schärer
The Champions League is back. The grandest of stages of club football is returning once again, barely two months after last season’s final. The group stages of the UEFA Champions League start this week with Barcelona in the group G. The first matchday sees Barça host Ferencváros in the Camp Nou, with Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv to follow in the coming weeks.
The competition has not been kind to Barcelona lately with disappointments reigning over happiness in the last four seasons. But, with a new coach, new players, and a new season, anything can change. The players can approach the new campaign with a fresh mindset without the pressure of being overwhelming favourites.
“We’re not the best favourites to win the Champions League, but we can go far.”Ronald Koeman (pre-match press conference)
The visitors are playing their first official game against Barcelona in their history. The Hungarians are back in the Champions League after a few stints in the Europa League. They have reached here after playing the qualifications and the playoffs and have accustomed to the competition. Nonetheless, they are the underdogs of Group G, and a positive result on the first matchday would send a statement to the other teams.
The hosts are understandably the favourites in the matchup, and the fans would expect a statement victory here to win them over. The hosts come from a defeat on the weekend, while the visitors remain unbeaten in their league. The Champions League can spring surprises out of nowhere, and the weekend of surprises could extend for the sake of the visitors.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Barça have played four official games this season coming into this game. While the first two displayed the strengths of the team, the latter two revealed the weaknesses of the new system and the players. Ronald Koeman has stuck with his 4-2-3-1 for all the games, and a lack of plan B is appalling. In the last two games, where the team struggled to break down blocks or navigate press, Koeman has just thrown in attacking players as subs.
While the attacking quality and technical proficiency are omnipresent, the lack of understanding between the players is concerning. However, the season is just getting started, and it would get better over the course of the season. The squad is arguably better and younger than previous seasons despite a few deficiencies in certain areas.
📰 — Koeman will make rotations against Ferencvarosi tomorrow, with the possibility of including Pjanic in the starting line-up. Fati and Coutinho will also most likely return to the starting XI. [md] pic.twitter.com/j4BuLXJ53I— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) October 19, 2020
The squad list will mostly remain the same as the last game with none of the injured players expected to return. With Real Madrid game on the weekend, a little rotation is likely from Ronald Koeman. Most of the players have travelled and played a lot during the international break, and this game could be a chance to rest them. Irrespective of the eleven in place, the prime objective would be to win the game with a good performance setting up for the next games.
What to expect from Ferencváros?
The Hungarian Champions play Barcelona for the first time in an official game despite getting found on the same year as Barcelona(1899). Over the years, they have played multiple friendlies against Barça with the last one happening 43 years ago. From a statistical point of view, the Catalans are unbeaten over the six games that happened over the course of more than 50 years.
The Zöld Sasok were one of the best teams in the country’s history during the mid 20th century. Hungary was the epitome of football during the era where they were better than any other country on the planet despite the lack of laurels. Ferencváros was Barça legend László Kubala’s home before he came to Spain as a refugee. He even returned to the Catalan club in a later stint as a coach.
Ferencváros have a settled eleven that they have used over the season. They have primarily used 4-2-3-1, the same as Barça. With two league victories in the last two years, they have secured a spot in the UCL after 25 years. With nine goals in the five qualifying games, they have an able attack to challenge big teams on the counter. Tokmac Chol Nguen is their top scorer this season and can be a potential goal threat cutting in from the left.
Coming into the game as obvious underdogs, they have a chance to spring a surprise with no expectations from their side. In recent years, Barça have struggled against the underdogs to some extent in the group stages.
Previous games: LDWWW
Getafe 1–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–1 Sevilla | La Liga
Celta Vigo 0–3 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 4–0 Villarreal | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Elche | Joan Gamper Trophy
Position in La Liga
7 points in 4 games
2 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss
8 Goals Scored, 2 Goals Conceded
+6 Goal Difference
“We’ve played four games and we’ve scored eight goals, I don’t know if there is any team who does better. I’m not worried about scoring goals, we have enough quality. The last two games we’ve also played against teams that defend very well.”Ronald Koeman (pre-match press conference)
Previous games: WWDDW
Kisvarda 0–2 Ferencváros | Nemzeti Bajnokság
Ferencváros 2–1 Puskas Akademia| Nemzeti Bajnokság
Ferencváros 0–0 Molde | Nemzeti Bajnokság
Molde 3–3 Ferencváros | Nemzeti Bajnokság
Rackeve 1–6 Ferencváros | Magyur Kupa
Position in Nemzeti Bajnokság
13 points in 5 games
4 win, 1 draw and 0 losses
12 Goals Scored, 3 Goal Conceded
+9 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 3–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 2–2 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 3–3 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 4–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 2–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
• Barcelona are undefeated in their last 5 matches against Ferencváros.
• The last game between the two teams happened 43 years ago.
• Ferencváros are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 matches (Champions League).
Team news and possible line-ups
Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Marc-André ter Stegen (Tendon), Jordi Alba (Hamstring)
Roberto · Ronald Araújo · Lenglet · Dest
Frenkie de Jong · Pjanić
Dembélé · Griezmann · Fati
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Lovrencsics · Blazic · Kovacevic · Heister
Somalia · Kharatin·
Isael · Siger · Nguen
Coach: Serhiy Rebrov
The first Champions League game of the season for Barcelona is with possibly the most comfortable opponent they could have had. Even with heavy rotations, winning this game should be a cake-walk. However, anything can happen on UCL nights.
Barça Universal prediction: 4-0 win for the Catalans.