Barcelona will be aiming to retain their place atop the La Liga table when they welcome RCD Mallorca to Camp Nou on Saturday.
Matchday 16 of the 2019-20 La Liga season resumes on Saturday, with the top two teams in action on the day. Champions Barcelona will round out the proceedings for the day when they play hosts to RCD Mallorca at Camp Nou, hoping to keep their place on the summit of the league intact.
Barcelona have rarely managed to play at their fluid best this season. But, in recent weeks, the reigning La Liga champions have found a way to grab all three points, particularly at home, where they are yet to drop a point in the competition this season. The Blaugrana come into the game on the back of a crucial 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid, a result that ensured top spot in the league.
RCD Mallorca, on the other hand, have blown hot and cold upon their return to La Liga for the first time since the end of the 2012-13 season. Los Bermellones have 14 points from their 15 games till date, but after managing just one win from their last six games, Vicente Moreno’s men find themselves at 17th on the table, just one point clear of the relegation zone.
Barcelona were comfortable 5-0 victors the last time they locked horns with Mallorca in a La Liga game at Camp Nou, with Cesc Fabregas scoring a hat-trick. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactucs
Gerard Pique was a fresh absentee for Barcelona after sustaining a knee injury over the past week. The veteran centre-back, though, has been included in the squad to face RCD Mallorca. Fellow defenders Nelson Semedo (calf) and Jordi Alba (hamstring), though, remain on the sidelines, while Ousmane Dembele is a long-term absentee.
Clement Lenglet should partner the fit and available Pique at the heart of the Barcelona defence, while Sergi Roberto and Junior Firpo pick themselves as the full-back pairing. There is no looking past Marc-Andre ter Stegen between the sticks.
Up ahead in midfield, Sergio Busquets is available again after serving out his suspension last time out against Atletico Madrid. Busquets should slot straight back into the starting lineup, sitting at the base of the three-man midfield.
Busquets is expected to be accompanied by Frenkie de Jong and Arturo Vidal in the middle of the park, with Arthur missing out once again. The three-pronged attack is an automatic pick, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann lining up in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo; de Jong, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann
Vicente Moreno has a new roster issue to contend with ahead of the trip to Barcelona. On Saturday, the RCD Mallorca boss is set to be without four first-team players due to injuries or suspension, with Lumor Agbenyenu serving a one-match ban after being sent off against Real Betis last week.
Meanwhile, Baba Rahman (knee), Aleksandar Trajkovski (ankle) and Cucho Hernandez (muscle injury) are on the treatment table due to their respective injuries. Moreno is expected to line his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Manolo Reina taking his place in goal.
Fran Gamez, Antonio Raillo and Martin Valjent are certain starters in the back four. However, in the absence of Lumor and Rahman, the Mallorca boss has a difficult decision to make for the left-back slot. And, Joan Sastre is likely to get the nod as a makeshift left-back against Barcelona.
The midfield double pivot should see Dani Rodriguez and Salva Sevilla partner up, with Real Madrid loanee Aleix Febas being handed a free role behind the central striker.
Another Real Madrid loanee, former Barcelona man Takefusa Kubo will start on the right side of the Mallorca attack, with Lago Junior lining up on the opposite flank, while Ante Budimir will lead the line for Mallorca.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Reina; Gamez, Valjent, Raillo, Sastre; Sevilla, Rodriguez; Kubo, Febas, Lago Junior; Budimir
- RCD Mallorca have failed to beat Barcelona in the last eight meetings between the two sides, dating back to May 2009 (D1 L7).
- Barcelona have a perfect home record in La Liga this season, winning six from six at Camp Nou and scoring 25 goals in the process.
- Mallorca have yet to claim an away point this term, losing all six of their matches on the road so far.
- Mallorca have managed to find the back of the net in just two of their away games and have conceded 14 goals in total.
- Only Karim Benzema (10) has managed to net more goals than Barcelona captain Lionel Messi (9) in La Liga this season.
Player to Watch
Hailed as one of the most promising young talents playing in Spain during his time at La Masia, Kubo was forced to leave Barcelona after the club was investigated for breaking FIFA regulations on signing young players. The kicker for Barcelona was that arch rivals Real Madrid ended up securing his services in the summer after a battle between the two giants of Spanish football.
Now set to return to Camp Nou for the first time, Kubo will be intent on making an impression, not just to get the better of Barcelona and ensure a big win for RCD Mallorca, but to also help parent club Real Madrid in the process. A big game for the Japanese teenager, who will be keen on making his mark.
Barcelona 3-0 RCD Mallorca
Barcelona might not have been at their fluent best this season. But, at home, Ernesto Valverde’s men have often looked their best and with Lionel Messi fresh off being crowned the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time, a straightforward evening seems to be on the cards for the hosts. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for Barcelona, with Mallorca struggling to put up much of a fight.