The Catalans will look to extend their winning run as they prepare to welcome Eibar to Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Barcelona will welcome Eibar to Camp Nou as they look to continue their winning momentum after having won all four of their matches so far in La Liga this season. Ernesto Valverde’s side won a hard-fought match against Getafe 2-1 on Saturday, with substitutes Denis Suarez and Paulinho scoring goals.
The home side will now play their third match in the space of seven days, and it will be interesting to see how they fare in their quest to win the La Liga trophy this season. Barcelona have certainly started the campaign on a strong note and have already put four points between themselves and Real Madrid.
Eibar will have to pull out a huge shock result to disrupt the hosts’ perfect start – especially since they will be feeling a little more confident after managing their first win in the league so far. The match will be intense since Eibar will be looking to make things tough for Barcelona after almost defeating the La Liga giants on the final day of last season.
Team News and Tactics
Barcelona will have to do without the services of their new recruit Ousmane Dembele for a few months after the young Frenchman suffered a thigh injury against Getafe. He is expected to undergo surgery soon but it is still uncertain as to when exactly he will play again since the recovery time also has to be factored in.
Rafinha continues to be out for the club while both Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic could be in line for a rest, following impressive cameos by Denis Suarez and Paulinho on Saturday. Meanwhile, Arda Turan is expected to be available against Eibar.
Playing Eibar should result in a fairly simple victory for the hosts. The Catalans have been quite adept in terms of their defence this season, and Valverde is unlikely to change an already strong back line. Eibar have struggled for goals this campaign, and the home side will look to bag an early goal or two while pushing for a clean sheet.
Club talisman Lionel Messi is in blistering form this season. He already has five goals to his name in four top-flight outings. However, the fact that Luis Suarez hasn’t been finding the back of the net lately could be worrisome for Valverde but the Uruguay international will hope to set things right by providing some goals against Eibar.
Predicted lineup (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umiti, Alba; Busquets, Denis Suarez, Paulinho; Deulofeu, Suarez, Messi.
Ivan Ramis seems to have recovered from the knock he picked up at Sevilla, but Fran Rico is still sidelined with a long-term injury. Yoel, Rico, Alejo and Pedro Leon are all confirmed absentees for the big game at Camp Nou which could put the visitors in a bit of a tough spot.
Despite the number of injuries, it’s worth noting though that Eibar may consider making further changes in an attempt to keep players fresh for a home game against Celta Vigo over the weekend, where they have a far greater chance of collecting points.
The visiting side are yet to avoid defeat against Barcelona since winning promotion to the top flight in 2014, so Eibar will travel more in hope than expectation to the Catalan capital. They failed to hit the back of the net against both Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla recently and will be hoping to at least find the back of the net at Nou Camp.
Having said that, Takashi Inui is likely to be Eibar’s danger man since he netted twice at Camp Nou on the final day of last season – a match that the Catalans almost lost. His pace out wide is more than matched by his excellent technique, and the visitors will be depending on him to somehow penetrate a tight Barcelona defence.
Predicted lineup (4-4-2): Dmitrovic; Capa, Oliveira, Galvez, Junca; Inui, Dani Garcia, Escalante, Ruben Pena; Kike Garcia, Charles.
- Barcelona have won all six of their league matches against Eibar, scoring 20 goals in total and conceding only three.
- All those wins were by at least a two goal margin, although they had to come from behind to win 4-2 in the most recent clash, which was at Camp Nou.
- The Blaugrana have won their last 11 matches in La Liga, their best run in the competition since March 2016.
- Eibar have won only one of their last six away matches in the Primera Division, a 1-0 victory at Malaga on the opening day of this season.
- If Gerard Pique plays against Eibar, the Barcelona centre-back will be featuring in his 250th league game for Barcelona.
Player To Watch
Gerard Deulofeu will receive a major opportunity to fill Dembele’s shoes. The former Everton winger impressed before the late arrival of Dembele, and was filling the Neymar void quite decently. Valverde is likely to provide him a chance to impress again – something that Deulofeu will be eager to grab.
In fact, with Dembele expected to be out for an uncertain number of months, Deulofeu can truly rise to the occasion and establish himself in that position. If he can continue his early season form up until the new year and continue to improve as a player, he will go a long way.
Barcelona 2 – 0 Eibar
Eibar have a few key injuries and that may limit their chances of grabbing a goal or even threaten the opposition goal enough at Camp Nou. With that in mind, there shouldn’t be any real obstacles for Barcelona as they look to continue what has been an excellent start to the season.
The loss of Dembele will come as a massive blow but with Messi and Luis Suarez fit, they still have a destructive front-line and have scored eight times in their last two home matches, against stronger opponents than Eibar. Needless to say, the hosts are the favourites in this fixture and are expected to win by quite a margin.