Barcelona will hope to continue their winning form as they travel to Budapest to take on Ferencvaros in gameweek 5 of the UEFA Champions League.
Date and kick-off time: Wednesday, December the 2nd, 2020, 21:00 CET
Stadium: Groupama Arena
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Round 5
Referee: Alksei Kulbakov
It has been a season of two halves for Barcelona, who have been high-sailing in the UEFA Champions League for the most part, but have failed to replicate the same in the La Liga. Proof of the same is their 100% winning streak in the UCL, where they have scored 13 goals in five games, conceding just two. On the other hand, their four wins in Europe directly mirrors their wins in the league, despite playing nine games.
Thankfully, though, Barcelona qualified for the Round of 16 in the UCL quite comfortably after a 4-0 win against Dynamo Kyiv, where they came knocking at all fronts. Martin Braithwaite, Sergiño Dest, and Antoine Griezmann etched their name on the scoresheet as the absence of Lionel Messi was hardly felt.
They will have the chance to replicate that performance yet again as Ronald Koeman has not called up Messi for this fixture. Not to mention, Philippe Coutinho and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are also missing from the squad list.
Barcelona’s last outing against Ferencvaros was lathered with goals, with the hosts firing on all cylinders. The game boasted of five different scorers as Messi ran the show with a goal and an assist. Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Pedri, and Ousmane Dembele also came through with their name on the scoresheet.
All said and done, it will still be an uphill task for Barcelona, who are missing several key players for this game, other than the ones Koeman has excluded for technical reasons. Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Ronald Araujo, Samuel Umtiti are all missing from the heart of the defence, while Clement Lenglet is a huge doubt, even though he has somehow made it to the squad list.
What to expect from Barcelona?
If Ronald Koeman’s starting XI against Kyiv is anything to go by, fans should be ready for multiple changes to the lineup. No Lionel Messi automatically means that the burden as the prime creative and goalscoring outlet will fall on the shoulders of Antoine Griezmann, who has been in tremendous form, scoring four goals and setting up two others for his teammates.
At long last, Griezmann looks like he is adapting to the club. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)
That said, the exclusion of Philippe Coutinho signals that Koeman might give a chance to Fransisco Trincao to shine with his second start in the Garnet and Blue. Ousmane Dembele came on against Osasuna for an impressive cameo, and will likely be seen on the left-wing. Martin Braithwaite completes the attack as the centre-forward in the front-four.
Oscar Minguez and Clement Lenglet are the only two centre-halves named in the squad list. Still, the latter picked up an ankle injury on the weekend, so his involvement in the game will be precautionary if anything. Frenkie de Jong will partner Mingueza in the heart of the defence. Sergiño Dest and Junior Firpo will be given the responsibility to add width from the back, while Neto guards the posts.
Finally, Miralem Pjanic, who has been on the fringes thus far this season will be given the job to hold the fort for the Catalan giants alongside Sergio Busquets in the double pivot.
What to expect from Ferencvaros?
Barcelona and Ferencvaros faced each other for the first time in the Champions League this season after 43 years. The clash did not quite end the way the Hungarians would have wanted to, but as it stands, they are in a tussle with Dynamo Kyiv over the third-place, which will see them drop to the Europa League.
Serhiy Rebrov has structured his team in three different ways in four games this thus far in the Champions league, and while difficult to predict, the essence of each of it lies in a 4-3-3. It is fair to expect him to field his players in the same lineup once again, with Ihor Kharatin as the deepest of the three midfielders, essentially acting as the third centre-back.
Marcel Heister and Gergo Lovrencsics will flank the defence as wingbacks who will join the counter to make the setup a 3-4-3 from a 5-4-1 in defence. The multi-talented Somalia will partner David Siger in the midfield. Tokmac Nguen will hope to give the Barcelona defence a run for their money again, as he leads the line with Oleksandr Zubkov and Myrto Uzuni acting as the right and left-wingers respectively.
Player to watch
Nguen will constantly run at the Barcelona defence and will win a handful of set-pieces as well. (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)
While an attacking or wide midfielder at heart, Tokmac Nguen was deployed as a centre-forward against Barcelona in their last outing against each other. It was a huge experiment by Rebrov, but it paid off as the Norwegian continually ploughed daggers through the heart of the Barcelona defence.
Although his electric pace will be taken care of much better by Frenkie de Jong and Oscar Mingueza, he still has the potential to trouble Barcelona on the counter, especially once their fullbacks completely commit themselves on the counter.
Previous games: WWLWW
Barcelona 4-0 Osasuna | La Liga
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
Position in UCL
12 points in 4 games
4 wins, 0 draws and 0 losses
13 Goals Scored, 2 Goals Conceded
+11 Goal Difference
Previous games: WWWLW
Ferencvaros 3-0 Mezokovesd Zsory | NB 1
Bicskei TC 0-5 Ferencvaros | Magyar Cup
Budapest Honved 0-1 Ferencvaros | NB 1
Juventus 2-1 Ferencvaros | UEFA Champions League
Ferencvaros 2-0 MTK Budapest | NB 1
Position in UCL
1 point in 4 games
0 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses
5 Goals Scored, 13 Goals Conceded
-8 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 5-1 Ferencvaros | UEFA Champions League
Barcelona 3–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 2–2 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 3–3 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 4–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
- Barcelona are undefeated in their last five meetings against Ferencvaros in all competitions.
- Barcelona and Ferencvaros met each other in an official competition for the first time in their respective history.
- Barcelona have scored 14 goals in their last five matches in all competitions, conceding just 4.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 games in the Champions League.
- Martin Braithwaite scored a brace in his first game ever in the Champions League against Dynamo Kyiv.
Team news and possible line-ups
Lovrencsics · Blazic · Kharatin · Frimpong · Heister
Uzuni · Somalia · Siger · Zubkov
Coach: Serhiy Rebrov
Injured: Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti,
Rested/Dropped: Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Dest · Mingueza · de Jong · Firpo
Pjanic · Busquets
Trincao · Griezmann · Dembele
Coach: Ronald Koeman
If the last two games has taught us anything it is that Barcelona, at least this season can survive without Lionel Messi on the field. Antoine Griezmann is on a pretty impressive streak, which was visible against Osasuna as he let loose an absolute belter from outside the box. It will also be a chance to test Oscar Mingueza again, who has caught the eye of Barcelona fans in his first two outings.
Barça Universal Prediction: 0-3 win for the the visitors.
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Real Sociedad
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Real Sociedad as they travel to Estadio El Arcangel, Cordoba for the Spanish Super Cup 2021 in the hope of racking up some silverware for the season.
A new competition is a new shot at silverware. Though it may be the smallest of the competitions that the Blaugrana are set to participate in, any form of a trophy could be the final nail needed to turn the engine on completely.
Barcelona are in dire need of silverware to boost their morale, and the Super Cup could not come at a better time. It will also serve as a chance for Ronald Koeman to plead his case to the new president in the hope of getting more time. The Catalans were seen to have finally found their aura, and their football finally exudes joy. They head into the competition in the best form of the four participating sides.
What better opponent could Barcelona ask for too. Since their defeat to Barcelona, Real Sociedad have lost three of their five games. This has seen them slip from a confident tabletop position to fifth.
Imanol Alguacil (Real Sociedad coach): "I said goodbye to my wife for 10 days. I'm sure we will reach the final." pic.twitter.com/Axrit8tpoX— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) January 13, 2021
Barcelona gave up a lead in the dying minutes against Atletico Madrid to eliminate the Super Cup last season. This season, they will be back stronger than before knowing well that the margins are tight. Here is how Barcelona could line up against Real Sociedad:
Heading into a competition where the side is two wins away from silverware in this mixed season, Marc Andre ter Stegen would have been undoubtedly be the first choice in Ronald Koeman’s eyes to get a start in the high-pressure game, but given it is a cup game, giving minutes to Neto will be absolutely crucial.
While Ronald Araujo has been the standout performer in defence for the Blaugrana, Koeman will not be able to count on the Uruguayan as he misses out with a muscle injury. That means one could well expect a duo of Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza on the night, despite Samuel Umtiti’s tremendous display against Granada. While Lenglet has had a poor season so far by his standards, Mingueza had a stellar showing in the last game. With this being a do-or-die situation, nothing less than perfection will suffice.
Sergino Dest was taken off early against Granada, presumably as a precaution to keep him for the Supercup game. That being said, the USMNT defender can be expected to start on the night. He will be accompanied by Jordi Alba at left-back, doing what he does best. The Spaniard scored the all-important equaliser when the two sides met a fortnight ago. He will certainly be looking for more of the same
If anything is to be learnt of Koeman’s novel 4-3-3 approach, it is Frenkie de Jong‘s growth as a player and Koeman’s growth as a manager. The Dutchman has found a new light in his Barcelona career, and the last games have seen the best of him yet. He will be an undoubted starter for the side.
However, the benefits of returning to the system Barcelona call home has helped boost the performances of so many others, of whom Sergio Busquets is one. The veteran has seemed mighty comfortable back in his single-pivot role. He will be the defensive midfielder on the night.
Completing the midfield will be the young gem Pedri. The 18-year-old has become an undisputed starter in the side and has become the source of joy for teammates and fans alike. His ability to break lines with ease will be a weapon Ronald Koeman counts on desperately.
Ousmane Dembele‘s impressive performances have been the source for so many headlines. The Frenchman finally seems to be fit, and understand the position with maturity. He will start on the right-wing.
One would expect Antoine Griezmann to continue to start as the left-winger after an impressive display against Granada. Anything even close to a replica of that show would do Barcelona a world of good.
Leading the frontline from the centre-forward position will be Lionel Messi. The Argentine is undoubtedly back to his ruthless and looks happier than ever. As long as the talisman enjoys his football, great days are written in the books for Barcelona.
Griezmann · Messi · Dembele
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Mingueza · Dest
Given the weight of the fixture, it is implausible that Koeman will look to rotate too much unless the game has been comfortably won. That being said, Francisco Trincao will continue to be an option for the manager to get some width into the game.
On other fronts, Miralem Pjanic and Martin Braithwaite will remain on the cards for the Dutchman to tighten the screw in the attack. They would likely come on to replace Sergio Busquets and Antoine Griezmann respectively