Cliffhanger. The only word that could summarize the emotions of the Barcelona faithful around the world after the 1-1 draw against Sevilla. The first two games showed positives in plenty, slowly mending the shattered confidence of Cules. However, the big test was always going to be against Los Palanganas. And the final game before the international break did not disappoint, featuring a gruelly fought battle that ended in a stalemate. It revealed the cracks in the new system and unveiled new facets for Ronald Koeman to enhance.
Less than two weeks later, Ronald Koeman’s men reunite after what was a rather eventful international break. A difficult test against Getafe stands right ahead, but the squad does have its fair share of concerns. Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo are both ruled out of the upcoming clash, with Samuel Umtiti, Marc Andre ter Stegen, and Matthaus Fernandes joining them on the sidelines.
After sustaining a heavy blow to his shoulder, Pjanic too seems to be doubtful for the upcoming clash. Fransisco Trincao too may be unavailable due to his proximity with the COVID-19 positive Cristiano Ronaldo. That said, it was a long and exhausting international break for many of the players. Martin Braithwaite, Miralem Pjanic, and Antoine Griezmann played over 200 minutes each. Lionel Messi, Clement Lenglet, and Frenkie de Jong saw 180 minutes of action each as well.
All this, while the schedule is just beginning to get tighter for the Catalans. With seven games coming up in 22 days, rotations are more crucial than ever. And this could begin right from the game against Getafe, where Koeman could opt to rest some of the international stars that endured a tiring week. Fatigue will undoubtedly be a massive factor that Koeman will have to weigh up before selecting the team for Saturday’s clash.
What to expect from Getafe?
Looking ahead at the task in hand, however, Barcelona does face formidable opposition in Jose Bordalas’ army. Getafe has endured a sweet-sour start to the season. Two victories and a loss in four outings sees them pitted at seventh on the league table.
Getafe were hammered by Sociedad at the Reale Arena. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Any ardent follower of La Liga can vouch for their incredible ride over the last 3 seasons. Jose Bordalas picked up a team that was on the brink of elimination, moulding them into a solid unit. A club that had an average attendance of nearly 10,000 has now become a genuine contender for European qualification.
For a second season running Bordalas has placed his trust in the 4-4-2 that has worked wonders for his team. The forward line is the only department where there have been rotations, with Cucho Hernandez, Jaime Mata, and Angel Rodriguez all receiving chances to feature in the front two.
In the midfield, former La Masia star Marc Cucurella has seen an advanced role on the left-wing. Mauro Arambarri and Nemanja Maksimovic form a double pivot, contributing extensively in pressuring the opposition. Allan Nyom has been a relentless force on the right of the midfield-four, though he has often had to operate in a slightly deeper position.
Getafe like to overload the wider areas, and the full-backs have had a major role in this. Damian Suarez and Matias Olivera though not extremely advanced, have been crucial in unlocking the pace of Cucurella or the forwards. The reliable trio of Xabier Etxieta, Djene and David Soria round off the side in the heart of the defence.
The new identity that the Madrid based side have created for themselves has often come under heavy criticism as anti-football. This is partly because of the extremely physical nature of their game. The last time Barcelona met Getafe, the Catalans found themselves at the receiving end of 30 fouls.
In recent years, Getafe’s defining principle has been the Gegenpress. When on the ball, they have often preferred to go with long balls, preferably in the wider areas. Out of possession, they have been a well organised and oiled 4-4-2 unit. They try to capitalise on outnumbering their opposition by overloading certain areas of the field.
How should Barcelona lineup?
Undoubtedly, breaking down the two compact defensive lines will be an uphill task for Barcelona’s front-three. With big Champions League clashes and El Clasico around the corner, the Dutchman must look to be resourceful.
Dembele could finally get the start he has been longing for. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Saturday could be the ideal chance to rest Ansu Fati who and provide him time to recuperate. Ousmane Dembele who has not seen game time this season could be started on the left-wing. His speed and dribbling could cause serious concerns to the wide spaces that Getafe tend to open up during their zonal overload. In the centre, one would expect Lionel Messi to continue to start. With Trincao on edge and just having the one training session before the game, Antoine Griezmann could be handed his fourth start of the season on the right-wing.
Forming the tip of the midfield and the fulcrum of the attack will be Phillipe Coutinho who carried his great form through the international break. However, one would expect him to be replaced by the likes of Pedri or Puig early in the second half. Miralem Pjanic’s injury leaves no doubt as to the starters in deep midfield. Following a fairytale performance against Italy, Frenkie de Jong will look to carry his great form. Though it seemed to be the right time to bring in Pjanic as a starter, it looks like Cules will have to wait a tad bit longer. Busquets could be given the nod ahead of the Bosnian for the fourth game in a row. The pivot will have to be extremely prophylactic in their approach, as they will be the focal target of Getafe’s press.
With Firpo and Alba out, there will be massive changes in the backline. One would expect Roberto to continue in the right-back role, whilst newcomer Sergino Dest could well replace the Injured Alba at left-back. Given that Getafe does often like long balls out wide, the duo will have enhanced defensive responsibilities come the night.
In central defence, Gerard Pique will once again step onto the field after a week off. Clement Lenglet to is expected to start, after he missed the game against Sevilla through suspension. Between the posts, undoubtedly, Neto will try to extend his great run.
Barcelona expected line-up against Getafe:
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.