Estadio Reyno de Navarra, Pamplona
Saturday, October 19, 20:00 GMT
Matchday 9 of La Liga will see the still unbeaten FC Barcelona travel to the Reyno de Navarra stadium to face Osasuna. While the Catalans will be looking for their 9th consecutive win, Osasuna will be tyring to get some momentum going after quite the disastrous start to the season, which puts them in the relegation zone at the moment. On paper, this looks set to be a quite one-sided match, but Osasuna have a history of always making life very complicated for the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in their stadium so this might not be a walk in the park for the defending champions, especially considering a lot of their players might be tired after the international break.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Osasuna have had a pretty poor start to the season, with two wins and six losses in 8 matches. Even at home, where they are traditionally very strong and get the bulk of their points, they have flattered to deceive so far. Hosting Barcelona is far from the ideal fixture to turn their fortunes around, but their history of troubling the Big 2 at the Reyno de Navarra (and even getting the occasional win) as well as the improvements shown under new manager Javi Garcia do give some hope. It will take something special to stop the Catalan juggernaut, but it is not an impossible task.
Javi Garcia should opt for his trademark 4-2-3-1 formation, with Fernandez as the goalkeeper, a back four of Damiá, Arribas Loties and Bertrán, shielded by Loe and Puñal. Armenteros – in doubt due to injury -, Silva and Sisi will play behind the lone striker Riera – the club’s best scorer this season so far with three goals. The strategy will obviously be to contain Barcelona as much as possible and launch fast counterattacks whenever there’s a chance; it might sound easy on paper, but in reality it will be a huge ask given the wealth of talent at Barcelona’s disposal as well as their relentless levels of pressure off the ball. It will take a monumental team effort to get anything out of this match for Osasuna.
Garcia has guaranteed that his team will not simply park the bus but look to put pressure on the Catalans whenever the chance arises, Osasuna will be looking for the 3 points and not merely a draw. Every single player will have to put in the hard miles on both ends of the pitch if Osasuna are to challenge the odds, which are firmly in favor of Barcelona as expected.
Probable Lineup: Fernandez; Damiá, Arribas, Loties, Bertrán; Loe, Puñal; Armenteros, Silva, Sisi; Riera
The Catalans have been unstoppable this season and they will be looking to notch up their 9th consecutive La Liga win this weekend ahead of next week’s El Clásico. The bad news for Barcelona is that a lot of players have played a lot of minutes during the international break, especially the club’s golden midfield trio of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta; the good news is that Messi is recovered from his injury and has been given the green light to play this weekend, although he will most likely start on the bench. Perhaps even better news is that Puyol and Mascherano are both fit again, adding a lot of much needed depth to the team’s backline.
Tato Martino will need to manage his squad’s fatigue and rest some of the internationals, but he should still field a pretty strong lineup, with Valdés as the keeper, Montoya, Mascherano, Bartra and Alves at the back, Song, Iniesta and Fabregas in midfield and Pedro, Sanchez and Neymar up front. This lineup, however, is far from certain as a lot will depend on how fatigued each player is after the international break.
From a strategic point of view, there’s not really much to say, Barcelona will aim to play as they always do, overwhelming their opponents through quick passing, possession and relentless pressure off the ball, looking for a goal from the very first minute. With Atlético Madrid also having a perfect league record so far and Real Madrid always a threat, Barcelona can’t really afford to let their concentration slip, 3 points are a must ahead of next week’s El Clásico.
Probable Lineup: Victor Valdés; Martin Montoya, Javier Mascherano, Marc Bartra, Daniel Alves; Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, Andrés Iniesta; Pedro Rodriguez, Alexis Sanchez and Neymar
Key Match Facts
- Osasuna have only scored 6 goals so far this season in the league, Lionel Messi alone has scored 8.
- Osasuna have only won one and lost three of their four home matches so far.
- Barcelona are aiming for an unprecedented (in history) 9th La Liga win in as many matches.
- Last season’s corresponding fixture ended 2-1 to Barcelona after a late comeback.
Player to Watch Out For
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
Whether he starts or comes on from the bench, it is almost guaranteed that Messi will play a role in this match and knowing the Argentine only a very bold man would bet against him doing something special. It seems almost redundant to say it, but every time Barcelona play the eyes of the world are on the 4-time Ballon d’Or winner as this generation’s finest player keeps making history.
CA Osasuna 0-3 FC Barcelona
Business as usual for the Catalans, with Neymar and Pedro scoring in the first half and Lionel Messi coming off the bench to cap off the team’s 9th consecutive win in emphatic fashion, thus building some nice momentum for El Clásico.