Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes
April 12, 2014; 20:00 GMT
Having been kicked out of the Champions League from the Quarter-Finals stage for the first time in many years, Barcelona find themselves struggling both domestically and on the European stage. Sitting on the second spot in the La Liga, the Catalans now have just the league to play for and the upcoming Copa del Rey finals next Wednesday where they face Real Madrid in the last El Clasico of the season.
So as they gear up to pay 15th placed Granada a visit on Saturday, they will be keenly aware of the fact that a slight slip up could very well end their domestic aspirations this season. With just 6 fixtures left and 3 points separating Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Tata Martino has to ensure that he is able to galvanise Lionel Messi and co into a winning unit it once was.
Sitting on the 15th place in the La Liga, Granada are the under-dogs as they welcome Barcelona on Saturday. Having lost their last 3 La Liga fixtures, Granada are just 3 points away from entering the relegation zone this season. Hence they will be looking to sit tight at the back and hope for a favourable result as they look to keep the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar at bay. But the last time the two teams met this season, Barcelona put 4 past Granada in a largely one-sided fixture.
Granada are expected to stick to their favourable 4-3-3 formation against Barcelona on Saturday and will be relying on their defenders to stick together as a strong defensive unit. They will be without possession for most of the game and hence will look to attack on quick counter-attacks. El Arabi has done reasonably well for them this season and has scored a total of 12 goals. If Granada are to score against the Catalans then he will have to step up his game and ensure that he doesn’t slip up if presented with a suitable opportunity. Club captian Diego Mainz hasn’t been enjoying a good run after recovering from his injury and hence all eyes will be on Ilori and Murillo who will be responsible for organising the defence.
Expected Line-Up: Roberto (GK), Nyom, Murillo, Ilori, Angulo, Recio, Iturra, Rico, Piti, El-Arabi, Riki
Having lost out on a semi-final spot in the Champions League, Barcelona will be looking to make sure they win against Granada or run a wisk of suffereing a total collapse in their campaign. They have had a turbulent 2014 and have struggled against weaker opponents. Though they did gain valuable points against Real Madrid, they are only two points above the men in Whites.
Barcelona might rest Neymar on Saturday with one eye on the upcoming Copa del Rey but are not expected to make any other significant changes. They are not enjoying a very successful run and are not in a position to rest key players. Pinto will replace injured Valdes and Bartra is expected to feature in the starting position. The rest of the midfield is supposed to line-up the same as the one against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League with Xavi and Iniesta calling the shots from the midfield.
Expected Starting Line-Up: Pinto (GK); Alves, Mascherano, Bartra, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Neymar, Messi, Fabregas
Player to Watch Out For:
Lionel Messi is the man to watch out for.Though not at the peak of his powers, Messi still has the ability to turn a game on its head and following a quite outing in the Champions League, he will be looking to get back to scoring goals against minnows Granada.
Granada 1-2 Barcelona
Blast From The Past