With the race for the Spanish La Liga title heating up, Barcelona take on Malaga as the two teams meet at the Camp Nou. Having left all talks of ‘crisis’ behind, Luis Enrique’s men are just a point behind Real Madrid and will be eager to win 3 points against a struggling Malaga side.
On an 11-game winning streak, Barcelona will be looking to keep up their form as they face Malaga at the Camp Nou. Just a point shy from Real Madrid with 15 games left in the season, both teams will be keen to avoid dropping points but Barcelona will be aware that Malaga will prove to be no walk-over.
Lionel Messi remains the focal point of Barcelonaa s attack and with the little Argentine back to his old self, Luis Enrique will be relying heavily on his star No 10 to lead the team on Saturday. Lionel Messi himself admitted that Barcelona have a two-pronged system of attack and have been reliant on their ability to counter-attack in order to score goals this season. His partnership with Neymar and Suarez is turning into one of the most lethal combinations in Europe.
Barcelona will also have one eye on Manchester City whom they face in the Champions League Round of 16. The Catalans will travel to Manchester mid-week and have an exciting clash lined up in their bid to win the Champions League this season. Pique and Mascherano are expected to start in the defence alongside Alves and Alba with Iniesta and Rakitic pulling the strings in the midfield. It will be interesting to see if Luis Enrique rests any of the key players in order to keep them fresh for the challenge at the Etihad Stadium.
Expected Starting Line Up: Bravo (GK); Alba, Alves, Pique, Mascherano; Iniesta, Rakitic, Busquets; Lionel Messi, Neymar, Suarez
Malaga have been suffering right from the start of the year and have managed only one win in their last 7 outings. Defeats against the likes of Almeria, Sevilla, Levante and Espanyol has cost them valuable points and the trip to the Camp Nou is not going to be an easy one for Javi Garciaa s men. Malaga have also suffered a string of key injuries which has rendered the squad unstable. Roberto Chen and Flavio Ferreira will miss the game due to injuries while Nordin Amrabat and Ignacio Camacho are unavailable due to suspension.
Javi Guerra is expected to lead Malagaa s attack and the Spaniard will hope to trouble the likes of Pique and Mascherano. Malaga will look to soak in the pressure and not allow Barcelona the opportunity and the space to swiftly counter-attack them. Sergi Darder and Recio will play key roles in the midfield and will be tasked with the responsibility to prevent Barcelona from controlling the midfield. Sanchez and Weligton are likely to start in the heart of the defence and are expected to be busy throughout the game with Messi, Suarez and Neymar present on the pitch.
Expected Starting Line Up: Kameni (GK); Sanchez, Weligton, Boka, Rosales;Darder, Recio, Samuel, Juanmi, Castillejo; Guerra
Player To Watch Out For
Lionel Messi remains the player to watch out for. The Argentine looks like he is back to being destructive self and is going to the biggest threat on the pitch at the Camp Nou. He has the ability to mesmerise the spectators with his deft footwork and change the game in a matter of minutes.
Blast From The Past