League leaders Barcelona will host a struggling Deportivo Alaves at the Nou Camp in matchday 21 of the La Liga.

Barcelona are coming off a comfortable 2-0 win over Espanyol in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter final tie. As things stand, they are currently 11 points clear of second placed Atletico Madrid at the top of the table. They haven’t lost a single game in the league and have only suffered defeat once this season.

Alaves on the other hand, are currently languishing at 17th place on the table. They have 19 points to their name and are level on points with Levante, who are 16th. A draw tonight could help them leapfrog the Granotas into 16th place, sending them 3 points clear of the relegation zone.

Tactics

Barcelona

Ernesto Valverde is expected to be without the services of Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Vermaelen. Besides these two players, the Spaniard has a full strength squad to call upon. Only three changes are expected to the side that started against Espanyol on Thursday.

Ter Stegen is expected to come in and replace Jasper Cillessen in goal. Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique are expected to retain their place, but Sergi Roberto will likely be replaced at right back by Nelson Semedo.

Paulinho will likely be brought back in to partner Sergio Busquets in midfield in place of Aleix Vidal, thereby pushing Ivan Rakitic further to the right. The irreplaceable Andres Iniesta is expected to take his place on the left of midfield, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez expected to lead the line once again.

Probable Starting XI(4-4-2): Marc Andre ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Paulinho, Andres Iniesta; Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi

Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves(2)

Deportivo Alaves

Abelardo Fernandez is expected to be without the services of Hector Hernandez and Burgui through injury, while Rodrigo Ely and Thomas Pina will be serving their respective suspensions. Captain Manu Garcia’s participation is doubtful, but we expect the Spaniard to take to the pitch tonight.

There are expected to be four major changes to the side that started in that 2-3 loss to Valencia in midweek. With the first one being Fernando Pacheco, who should come in for Antonio Sivera in goal. Ruben Duarte and Martin Aguirregabiria are expected to retain their places at left and right back respectively.

Alexis is expected to come in for the suspended Rodrigo Ely and join Victor Lauguardia in the center of defence. Ibai Gomez and Alfonso Pedraza will start on the wings, with Daniel Torres being joined by Manu Garcia in the center of midfield.

On-loan Barcelona boy Munir El Haddadi is expected to come in place of Ruben Sobrino and join John Guidetti upfront. It will be interesting to the see how the highly rated youngster fares against his former side tonight.

Probable Starting XI(4-4-2): Fernando Pacheco; Martin Aguirregabiria, Victor Laguardia, Alexis, Ruben Duarte; Ibai Gomez, Manu Garcia, Daniel Torres, Alfonso Pedraza; Munir El Haddadi, John Guidetti

Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves(1)

Key Statistics

  • Barcelona have won 8 of of their last 9 matches against Alaves in all competitions.
  • Barcelona have scored a minimum of 2 goals in 8 of their last 9 matches against Alaves.
  • In 30 matches against Barcelona in all competitions, Deportivo Alaves have won only 5, drawing 5 and losing 20.
  • In 15 times Deportivo Alaves have faced Barcelona at the Nou Camp, they have won only twice. Losing 12 and drawing 1.

Player To Watch

Barcelona: Philippe Coutinho

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 25: Philippe Coutinho of FC Barcelona conducts the ball during the Spanish Copa del Rey Quarter Final Second Leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou stadium at Camp Nou on January 25, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Philippe Coutinho conducts the ball during the Spanish Copa del Rey Quarter Final Second Leg match against RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou stadium on January 25, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Picture Courtesy – Getty Images)

The Brazilian is expected to make his La Liga debut tonight, having made his Nou Camp debut a few days ago against Espanyol in the second leg of Barcelona’s Copa del Rey semi-final tie. It was a fairly decent outing from the former Liverpool attacker, and all eyes will be on him to see how he fares on his debut.

Prediction

Barcelona 4-0 Deportivo Alaves

We predict a comfortable victory for the Blaugrana tonight. It is clear that their loss against Espanyol was only a minor hiccup and they have since bounced back in style. Alaves have won only 4 away games across all competitions this season and only 2 of them have been in the League.

Games aren’t won on paper, but given the quality in Barcelona’s squad and the current form they are in, it is extremely unlikely that they will be able to overcome the league leaders at home and inflict their first league defeat of the season.

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