Barcelona will like to put the Clasico behind and get a resounding win in La Liga when they host Deportivo Alaves at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
In the wake of a goalless Clasico, Barcelona will be eager to get back to winning ways against Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on Saturday. After a tight affair against arch-rivals, Real Madrid Ernesto Valverde’s men will be determined to come back with a resounding win at home as the Blaugrana look to maintain their lead at the top of the La Liga table.
Meanwhile, Alaves are without a win in their last four matches in all competitions, with the latest shocker coming against Real Jaen, who handed Asier Garitano’s men a 3-1 defeat in the Copa del Rey. Alaves are currently languishing in 14th position in the table, having amassed 18 goals from 17 matches, which shows the struggle in their attack this season.
The corresponding fixture last season was a very cagey affair for both sides, with Barcelona eventually running out 2-1 winner, courtesy goals by captain Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, while John Guidetti scored the only goal for the visitors. We at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Ernesto Valverde will be without some of his regulars, with both Arthur Melo and Ousmane Dembele sidelined. Ansu Fati is also a major doubt for this fixture after sustaining a bruised hip, while Sergio Busquets is still out with fever and is likely to miss this game, having also missed the Clasico.
The Catalan side will again opt for a 4-3-3 formation, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen set to take his place in goal. The back four will include the likes of Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba slotting in as the full-backs, while Gerard Pique will partner Samuel Umtiti, who replaces Clement Lenglet at the heart of the Barcelona defence.
Ivan Rakitic is likely to play in Busquets’ role at the base of the three-man midfield, with Frenkie de Jong playing a more advanced role for Barcelona and there are high chances that Arturo Vidal may get a look in after his good performance in the Clasico.
In attack, the lethal trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Greizmann is likely to remain unchanged, despite their poor collective performance against Real Madrid where they failed to score on multiple occasions.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Vidal, Rakitic, de Jong; Messi, Suarez, Greizmann
Asier Garitano has greeted some great news ahead of his side’s trip to Barcelona, with Alaves boasting a near-full strength squad. Only experienced midfielder, Tomas Pina is out for the game after fracturing his leg.
However, there will likely be changes from their latest loss, against third division side, Real Jaen in the Copa del Rey. With players like Joselu and Lucas Perez coming back into the starting eleven, the Basque outfit might be able to challenge the mighty Barcelona.
Alaves will continue with their usual 4-4-2 formation, with Fernando Pacheco taking his place under the bars. In defence, the Spanish duo of Ximo Navarro and Ruben Duarte are likely to slot in the full-back positions, while Brazilian defender Rodrigo Ely will partner the experienced Víctor Laguardia at the heart of the Alaves defence.
Former Barcelona man Aleix Vidal is likely to start on the right flank, with Luis Rioja controlling the left wing. At the centre of the park, Pere Pons and Manu Garcia will provide stability to the midfield and also provide the creative thrust.
Attack has been underwhelming, with players other than Lucas Perez struggling to score goals consistently. Former Newcastle United forward Joselu leads the lines for Asier Garitano’s side along with the calm and composed former Arsenal man, Lucas Perez.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pacheco; Navarro, Ely, Laguardia, Duarte; Vidal, Pons, Garcia, Rioja; Joselu, Perez
- Barcelona have won their last five games against Alaves and have maintained a healthy goal scoring rate of three per game, with four clean sheets from the lot.
- The last home defeat for Barcelona against Alaves came on September 2016 (1-2), wherein Sergio Busquets made his 250th appearance in La Liga.
- Alaves have a very poor record on the road, having won one out of their last 12 La Liga away games (D2 L9). The 2-0 win against Eibar in November is also the only time they kept a clean sheet away from home in that period of time.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 11 La Liga matches against Basque opponents at home (W10 D1). The last defeat against a Basque outfit at Camp Nou came against Alaves (1-2) in 2016.
Player to Watch
The Uruguayan had a torrid time against Real Madrid in the Clasico, especially against the likes of Raphael Varane and Casemiro, who snatched the ball out multiple times from Suarez’s feet in the final third. There were moments when Suarez could have won his team the crucial game and considering his calibre, he should have buried at least one chance in the game.
Against Alaves, Suarez will get a chance to redeem himself and get back in some goalscoring form and considering his past record, he enjoys himself against the Basque outfit. It can be a welcome game for the 32-year old as a result. Suarez has time and again proven his mettle and will look to do so against Alaves at Camp Nou.
FC Barcelona 3-0 Deportivo Alaves
It is set to be a comeback match for Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona side, as a team. Barcelona ought to be disappointed with the draw in El Clasico and they will be aware that their arch-rivals dominated proceedings for most of the match and therefore they will go all out in this game to get back to winning ways and keep their top spot in the La Liga table intact.
Lionel Messi & co. have scored the most number of goals this season in La Liga and Asier Garitano’s men have conceded 24 goals from 17 league matches. Therein comes the concern for the Alaves head coach.
Barcelona’s zeal to stay at the top and win every game from here puts them ahead of their visitors while the difference in quality in all aspects is a different story altogether. We at The Hard Tackle predict that anything less than a three-goal win will be considered a letdown from this Barca side.