Barcelona will look to continue on their winning ways when they take on newly promoted side Huesca at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona will look to register their third victory in three games, when they face off against Huesca this weekend at home.
Ernesto Valverde’s men have kicked off the defence of their league title in a solid fashion. After beating Alaves 3-0 on the opening day, they followed it up with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid last weekend in difficult conditions. And the Catalans will be looking to maintain their perfect record in the new campaign with a win on Sunday.
Having earned promotion to the La Liga for the first time ever in their history, Huesca have had a great start to life in the top-flight, beating Eibar in their first fixture, before coming away with a point against Athletic Bilbao. Heading into their third away game, Leo Franco’s men will be hoping to cause an upset at Camp Nou.
Team News & Tactics
There are no fresh injury concerns for Valverde to contend with heading into Sunday’s fixture. Denis Suarez is sidelined with an injury for the home team, along with promising academy products Sergi Samper and Carles Alena. The manager is expected to continue with the 4-3-3 setup he has used so far in the new season.
Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen has been passed fit, after he missed the last game with a bruised rib. However, his return will not have any effect on Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s spot under the crossbar against the newly promoted side. Gerard Pique is a definite starter in the heart of the defence, but Valverde might hand new signing Clement Lenglet his debut, in place of Samuel Umtiti.
Sergi Roberto should continue at right-back ahead of Nelson Semedo, while left-back Jordi Alba will go into the game with a point to prove, after having not been picked for the Spain national team.
The ever-present Sergio Busquets will continue to anchor the midfield for the Blaugrana on Sunday, with support coming from Croatian international Ivan Rakitic. The third midfield slot will be taken up by Philippe Coutinho, who will be tasked with the playmaking duties from the middle, which would imply, Arthur and Arturo Vidal will have to wait for their full debuts.
Lionel Messi had a bit of an off night against Valladolid last weekend and will hope to bounce back strongly against Huesca on Sunday. Ousmane Dembele is a guaranteed starter on the left-flank after a match-winning display in the previous game.
Luis Suarez’s form has been a bit of a concern for Barcelona this season, but the Uruguayan is expected to spearhead the attack once again on Sunday.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Coutinho; Messi, Suarez, Dembele;
The Aragonese outfit have no injured or suspended players to worry about before their first ever league game at Camp Nou this weekend. Manager Franco is unlikely to make many changes to the team, with his side likely to set up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation against the champions.
Argentine shot-stopper Axel Werner is expected to continue between the sticks and will have his task cut out on Sunday. He will need all the support that he can get from the back four of Jorge Miramon, Jorge Pulido, Xabier Etxeita and Luisinho. The entire backline will be in for a stern test against a deadly Barcelona attack.
Alex Gallar is Huesca’s leading goalscorer in the season with two strikes from two games. He will be a potent threat going forward from the right-flank. Having scored the equalizer in the last game against Bilbao, Ezequiel Avila could be set for a starting berth on the left-flank, ahead of Moi Gomez. Both the wingers will need to help out defensively though against the Barca full-backs.
The 31-year old Damian Musto will look to screen the visitors’ backline in the middle of the park and look to stem the influence of Coutinho. Alongside him will be captain Gonzalo Melero, who will be provide the creative presence, but will need to be aware of his defensive responsibilities.
Upfront, Huesca will rely on target man Samuele Longo to hold up the ball and allow the wide players to get into the act, while 19-year old Watford loanee Juan ‘Cucho’ Hernandez will look to play off the shoulders of the Barcelona defenders.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Werner; Miramon, Pulido, Etxeita, Luisinho; Gallar, Melero, Musto, Avila; Cucho, Longo;
- This is the first time the two teams are meeting in the La Liga. They did, however, clash twice in Copa Del Rey in 2014-15 season, when Barcelona trounced Huesca 12-1 over two legs. The second leg at Camp Nou ended with a 8-1 scoreline.
- The Blaugrana have won 29 of their last 32 fixtures at Camp Nou in the Spanish top flight (D3). They are are unbeaten at home in the league since September 2016.
- Barcelona have scored at least 2 goals in 29 of their last 32 home matches in the La Liga.
- The reigning champions are the only team yet to concede a goal in the La Liga this season.
Player to watch
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
Having endured a difficult debut campaign, the French World Cup winner is making all the right noises at the start of the new season. The 21-year old’s goal proved to be the difference for Barcelona last week against Valladolid, just like it had a couple of weeks back in the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla.
When the likes of Messi and Suarez were struggling to get going in the previous game, the youngster produced one of his most accomplished performances in Barcelona colours. With pace to burn and dribbling abilities to match, he is going to be a handful for the Huesca defence to deal with on Sunday at Camp Nou.
Barcelona 3-0 Huesca
The newly promoted outfit have had a very positive start to the season, showing great spirit and intent in their first two games to pick up four points out of a possible six. However, facing up against an opposition of the quality of Barcelona, who haven’t tasted defeat at home in two years, will be a daunting prospect for Huesca.
Despite Suarez’s misfiring form and Messi’s uncharacteristically quiet performance last weekend, the Catalans have more than enough in their tanks to get past the club from Aragon and continue their perfect start to the campaign.