Real Madrid won the La Liga title last matchday, beating Villarreal with Barça further assisting them by losing to Osasuna. Now, the final matchday of the season is nothing but moot for the Catalans in terms of competition. But, there are a lot of things they have to change at least for the sake of the fans. Here’s the preview of the match between Deportivo Alavés and Barcelona.
Date and kick-off time: Sunday 19 July 2020, 16:00 CET
Stadium: Mendizorrotza Stadium
Competition: La Liga, matchday 38
Referee: Juan Martinez Munuera
The result of the title race has been lucid for some time now even before Real Madrid mathematically secured it in the last game. Barcelona’s inconsistent form since the restart gradually made them lose ground in the battle. Still, it was not over yet, and in football, there is always hope. But, the way Barça came out to play against Osasuna, on home turf, said it all.
The hosts, as usual, had the bulk of the possession doing the same predictable passing with Osasuna’s defence unaffected by it. The visitors had a medium block, waited patiently to strike on the break and in transitions. After the punishing goal from former Barça man Arnaiz, the hosts barely turned up with the dangerous chances coming only from Messi’s set-pieces. With everyone up the pitch, Osasuna countered in the closing minutes to kill off the game.
“You cannot convince me that the situation is disastrous. We deserved to win in many games that slipped out of our hand. We have to improve, but you have to notice the things that have changed”
The performance was unquestionably not the way to close off the last game in the Camp Nou in La Liga. The reaction of Messi after scoring the freekick said it all. But, right now, it is time to improve so Barça can be better when they face Napoli in the Champions League on August 8. Because like the captain said, if Barcelona play like this vs Napoli, there are little chances of going through, despite having the away goal.
Right now, the Catalans travel to Vitoria-Gasteiz to face relegation-safe Deportivo Alavés. Like Barcelona, they have nothing to play for after having secured their place in next season’s La Liga. With a win here, Barça can not only get back to winning ways but will have won three consecutive away games.
What to expect from Deportivo Alavés?
The hosts struggled for the most of the season in the bottom half dangling by the relegation zone. Their current manager Juan Ramón López Muñiz took over the reins only this month. The hosts were on disastrous form losing five consecutive games with the 6-0 thumping from Celta Vigo starting the streak. The new manager took over with a defeat to Champions elect Real Madrid(now) but confirmed their position with a draw and win.
It has only been a couple of weeks and three matchdays since the new gaffer took over. So, it is hard to predict how the team plays. Alavés have been lining up in a 4–4–2 formation in the three games Muñiz has managed with two strikers upfront. Joselu and Lucas Pérez are generally the two, with each capable to troubling the backline.
Barça could also see a familiar face in Aleix Vidal who was at the Camp Nou for a couple of years before moving away. The hosts have a few injury setbacks with Rubén Duarte, Fernando Pacheco confirmed out and Ximo Navarro doubtful. Rodrigo Ely serves his ban after getting a late red card vs Real Betis in the last matchday. They don’t have anything to play for in this game but would love to get one over a troubled Barça team.
What to expect from Barcelona?
From the start of the campaign, Barcelona were far from convincing. They have been shaky throughout the campaign and hardly showed any promise to retain the title once the season restarted. Barcelona’s problems range right from the board, down to the players on the pitch. However, there is no point in blaming and pointing hands right now as the season is yet to complete with Champions League looming.
Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Ronald Araújo will play against Alavés and will not take part in Barça B’s play-offs for promotion to the Second Division | Photo by Jorge Guerrero / AFP via Getty Images
The Catalans are in dire need of a complete performance to raise the spirits ahead of the Napoli game. But, they are out of their depth in terms of personnel available for this game. Quique Setién, much to his displeasure, could not fill the squad list for the game with only 16 players making the travel sheet. Three first-team players, Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitić, and Junior Firpo, are out of the game due to accumulation of five yellow cards.
Arthur Melo once again joins the injury list alongside Dembélé, Umtiti and Griezmann. All these exclusions leave only 12 first team members alongside four youth players. Setién has only two outfield players to sub in during the game. With this thinned out squad, there are not many expectations for a spectacular performance, but a win would do so many favours.
Last 5 games:
Real Betis 1–2 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga
Deportivo Alavés 0–0 Getafe | La Liga
Real Madrid 2–0 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga
Real Valladolid 1–0 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga
Deportivo Alavés 0–2 Granada | La Liga
Position in La Liga
39 points in 37 games
10 wins, 9 draws and 18 losses
34 Goals Scored, 54 Goals Conceded
–20 Goal Difference
Last 5 games: LWWWD
Barcelona 1–2 Osasuna | La Liga
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
Position in La Liga
79 points in 37 games
24 wins, 7 draws and 6 losses
81 Goals Scored, 38 Goals Conceded
+43 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 4–1 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga, 19/20
Deportivo Alavés 0–2 Barcelona | La Liga, 19/18
Barcelona 3–0 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga, 19/18
Barcelona 2–1 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga, 17/18
Deportivo Alavés 0–2 Barcelona | La Liga, 17/18
• Barcelona have won their last 7 matches against Deportivo Alaves in all competitions.
• Barcelona have kept a clean sheet in their last 7 away matches against Deportivo Alaves in all competitions.
• Barcelona are undefeated in their last 5 away matches (LaLiga).
• Deportivo Alaves have failed to score in their last 3 home matches (LaLiga).
Team news and possible line-ups
Injured: Rubén Duarte, Fernando Pacheco, Ximo Navarro
Suspended: Rodrigo Ely
Aguirregabiria · Lisandro Magallan· Victor Laguardia · Marin
Vidal · Garcia · Camarasa · Borja Sainz
Lucas Pérez · Joselu
Coach: Juan Ramón López Muñiz
Iván Rakitić, Gerard Piqué and Junior Firpo will all miss Barça’s game through suspension | Photo by Imago
Injured: Ousmane Dembélé (hamstring), Samuel Umtiti (knee), Antonie Griezmann (aductor), Arthur Melo (ankle)
Suspended: Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitić, Junior Firpo
Sergi Roberto · Araújo · Lenglet · Jordi Alba
Arturo Vidal · Busquets · de Jong
Messi · Suárez · Ansu Fati
Coach: Quique Setién
The result of this game matters very little to the overall scheme of things. Neither team requires a result here to make a significant change to their current situation in the league. Both clubs will look forward to finishing their La Liga campaign on a high. The writer’s prediction for the game: 2–1 win for the Catalans.
How should Barcelona lineup against Dynamo Kyiv?
If the horrid performance against Atletico Madrid was not enough, injuries continue to plague Barcelona’s season further. The Catalans were outplayed at the Wanda Metropolitano. However, the question is: How does the team recover from a defeat like that?
After initial injuries to Ansu Fati and Sergio Busquets threatened to derail the Catalans season, the club has now confirmed both Gerard Pique and Seri Roberto to be out through injury for a long spell.
Yet, for all the mayhem in the league, Barcelona’s position in the champions league is safe. With three wins from their opening three encounters, they sit untouched at the top of the group. Ronald Koeman pointed to the same when asked about his decision of resting Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong. With so many key players out injured and others rested, how should Barcelona line-up against Dynamo Kyiv?
What to expect from Dynamo Kyiv?
The first game between the two sides provided more than it had promised. Kyiv were missing 13 players through COVID-19, yet that did not reflect on the pitch. Barcelona dominated the opening spell of the game. However, beyond the 25-minute mark, there was a sudden drop in energy levels. The Catalans seemed to ease off, opening the gates to a close-fought level headed battle which could have gone either way.
Mircea Lucescu has stuck to his successful 4-1-4-1 in the Champions League too. The overload in midfield is a potent obstacle to most oppositions, though one would expect Barcelona to break it down. The Ukrainians have often resorted to, and will most probably look to once again implement a low block. The press is high, however, isn’t very prominent in the opposition half.
Lucescu will bring up a harbour of troubles for Barcelona. (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)
Instead, Lucescu’s men look to hit on the counter. Victor Tsygankov, Vitaliy Buyalski and Vladydlav Supryaga have time and time again proved to invaluable for the same.
Learning from their mistakes, Barcelona will have to plug the spaces in between lines to come back home with all three points. It is a much younger side travelling to Ukraine. Moreover, with this being a chance for many of them to impress, one can expect the youth to step up.
How should the Barcelona line-up?
The only department that seems sorted for the time being is the Goalkeeper. Yet, ter Stegen too is coming off a horrid mistake at the Wanda Metropolitano. One that cost Barcelona the match. Undoubtedly, the German will be keen to make a statement on Tuesday.
The defence is in jeopardy. Gerard Pique could likely miss anywhere between three months to the end of the season after suffering a muscle sprain and partial cruciate ligament tear. Ronald Araujo is not fit to compete either, and with Samuel Umtiti’s state not helping the cause, Koeman stares into blackness.
Yet, one man’s loss is another’s gain. Given the situation, young Barcelona B centre-back Oscar Mingueza could get his chance to impress. In fact, it was a point Koeman specifically hinted to at the pre-match interview. Alongside him will undoubtedly be Clement Lenglet, whose importance is now more than ever. In Pique’s absence, the Frenchman will have to take up the onus of leadership and marshalling the troops.
Sergi Roberto’s injury opens the door for Sergino Dest to start the game at right-back. Unquestionably, his pace will be crucial to neutralise Kyiv’s threat on the counter.
At left-back, one expects Jordi Alba to start once again. In the absence of Lionel Messi, the Spaniard’s importance will be more than ever to create chances going forward.
Ronald Koeman could opt for a change in formation going into this clash, given his limited resources. Indeed, a 4-3-3 would be an ideal setup to try with the new crop of players. Miralem Pjanic could start as the defensive midfielder operating deeper in the position. Nevertheless, It is not a new role for the Bosnian, as he has played as a single pivot on many occasions in his career.
The midfield could be completed by the duo of Pedri and Carles Alena. Pedri had a comparatively quiet night against Atletico Madrid and will look to make amends. Carles Alena could finally get a well-deserved start after being neglected from the start of the season.
Antoine Griezmann could well start as the centre-forward on the night. The Frenchman has come under intense scrutiny by the media, both for his performances and statement made by people in his environment. Indeed, it will be an essential night for the World Cup winner, as he will lead the Catalan attack.
🗣 — Griezmann: "I am very well here at Barça, they have welcomed me very well. I want to help the team. They trusted me and now I want to reciprocate that trust by helping the team win. There is no problem with anyone, I'm really fine and I just ask you to leave me a bit calm." pic.twitter.com/XuOLl92GQH— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 23, 2020
Flanking him on the left side would be Ousmane Dembele, who is undoubtedly a major asset for Koeman. In these trying times with limited options, his all-round play comes as a whiff of fresh air.
On the right-flank, Fransisco Trincao would be the ideal option. Koeman has under-utilised the Portuguese winger so far. However, Tuesday night could be his chance to impress as the Dutch manager looks to rest key players. Moreover, his combination with Dest will be crucial for Barcelona to break down Lucescu’s side.