Barcelona will look to recover from their tragic exit from the UEFA Champions League as they play hosts to Getafe on Sunday.
Barcelona will play Getafe in what will essentially be a dead-rubber for the hosts at the Nou Camp on Sunday. The Spanish giants have already secured their 26th La Liga title at the end of last month.
But, Ernesto Valverde’s men will be keen to recover their form after a catastrophic 4-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League. The Blaugrana blew a seemingly unassailable 3-0 first-leg lead and were once again eliminated in the semi-finals of the coveted tournament.
And recovering from demoralizing loss could be pivotal as they look to end their domestic campaign on a positive note.
For Getafe, however, it could be a must-win contest if they are to finish inside top-four in the league this season. The Azulones are currently fourth in the league standings but are facing stiff competition from Valencia and Sevilla, both of who are trailing them by just three points.
Therefore, they will look to salvage at least a point, but given Barcelona’s form, the visitors will be confident of their chances of causing an upset weekend.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over both the sides ahead of their match-up on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
Valverde could make a few alterations to the side that lost to Liverpool in midweek. Luis Suarez has suffered an ankle injury. The Uruguayan international has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Lionel Messi, therefore, could spearhead the Barca attack, paving the way for Malcom to receive a rare start at right wing, especially with Ousmane Dembele sidelined with an injury. Philippe Coutinho will retain his place on the opposite flank.
Sergio Busquets could retain his place in the holding midfield role. Carles Alena, meanwhile, might be given a starting opportunity, with Arthur Melo out injured. He will be partnered by Rakitic and Busquets at the base of Barca’s 4-3-3.
In defence, Nelson Semedo will replace Sergi Roberto in the right-back slot while Jordi Alba should once again start at left-back, after his forgettable outing against Liverpool in midweek. Gerard Pique is expected to retain his place in central defence, along with Clement Lenglet, although both of them are coming on the back of dismal performances in midweek.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Alena; Malcom, Messi, Coutinho
Getafe boss Jose Bordalas is unlikely to make too many changes to the side that secured a 2-0 win against Girona last weekend. But, the 55-year-old could opt for a traditional 4-4-2 considering the quality of the opposition.
That means two wide-attackers in Dimitri Foulquier and Mathias Olivera will shift into a deeper wide role, thus joining the double-pivot to form a bank of four players. This will make Getafe much more resilient, especially without the ball.
Damien Suarez and Leandro Cabrera will occupy the fullback slots, but both the players could operate in a more central role, should Barcelona apply enough pressure in attack. This will force the two wide-midfielders to act as a auxiliary full-backs – thus forming a solid and rigid six at the back formation.
However, key defender Bruno Gonzalez is suspended, which could be a massive blow for the visitors. Ignasi Miquel will be the standby to replace the 28-year-old centre-back.
And finally, in attack, Angel Rodriguez will deputise for the suspended Jaime Mata, another key player for Getafe. Rodriguez will be partnered by Jorge Molina, who has already notched up 14 goals in the league this season.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Soria; Suarez, Miquel, Djene, Cabrera; Foulquier, Maksimovic, Arambarri, Olivera; Rodriguez, Molina
- Getafe have lost just two of their last 15 league matches, leaving Los Azulones three points clear of fifth place and in pole position for Champions League qualification.
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 5 of Barcelona‘s last six games.
- Barcelona have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last seven home matches against Getafe in all competitions.
- Barcelona have scored at least two goals in 12 of their last 14 matches against Getafe in all competitions.
- Barcelona are undefeated in their last 15 home matches against Getafe in all competitions.
Player to Watch
It hasn’t exactly been the best of seasons for Malcom after arriving from Bordeaux last summer. The Brazilian is yet to muster 500 minutes of league football this season, which is unacceptable for a player of his calibre.
But, with Dembele facing a spell on the sidelines and Coutinho being linked with a move away from the Nou Camp, it could be an excellent opportunity for Malcom to impress Valverde and end the season on a positive note.
His ability to create chances in the final third coupled with his willingness to take on defenders could be crucial, especially when probing a rigid Getafe – making him one of the players worth looking forward to this weekend.
Barcelona 1-0 Getafe
Breaking open a rigid Getafe defence could be a tough nut to crack for FC Barcelona, especially after coming on the back of such a disastrous exit in the Champions League. But, with the backing of the home support, we expect the hosts to secure a narrow win over the Azulones this weekend.