Barcelona will be looking to kick off the new era under Quique Setien with a win when they play hosts to Granada at Camp Nou on Sunday night.
Barcelona will be ushering in a new era on Saturday as they kick things off under newly-appointed manager Quique Setien with a home game against Granada in Matchweek 20 of the 2019-20 La Liga.
Barcelona decided to relieve Ernesto Valverde following their debacle in the Supercopa de Espana, where they were beaten at the semi-final stages by Atletico Madrid. In came Quique Setien, a known admirer of the Catalan outfit who has been without a job since leaving Real Betis at the end of the last season.
The 61-year-old is a follower of Johan Cruyff’s ideologies and will bring back that style to Barcelona after a cull of clear identity under Valverde. With Real Madrid beating Sevilla on Saturday, the Blaugrana have slipped to the second spot in the table and Setien will be hoping to lead his team to a victory and reclaim the top spot.
Granada are currently tenth in the La Liga standings with 27 points from 19 matches so far. El Grana have won four of their last six matches in all competitions, with their most recent fixture ending in a 1-0 win over Tamaraceite in Copa del Rey second round earlier in the week.
Having beaten Barcelona in the reverse fixture, Granada will be hoping to repeat the feat or at least get a point from Camp Nou this weekend. And ahead of this contest on Sunday night, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Setien has a huge injury headache heading into his first game in charge at Barcelona as star striker Luis Suarez has been ruled out for four months after he underwent a knee surgery earlier this month. The Catalans will also be without the services of fellow attacker Ousmane Dembele, while summer signing Frenkie de Jong is suspended.
There is some good news on the horizon for Setien though, as midfielder Arthur and first-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen have trained with the team this week and are in line for a return on Sunday. The new manager is unlikely to tweak the 4-3-3 formation that Barcelona utilize but there will be changes made to the team that started against Atletico last time out.
In goal, the fit-again ter Stegen should resume duties ahead of summer signing Neto. Nelson Semedo is likely to get the nod at right-back, while Jordi Alba is a certainty to feature on the opposite side. Gerard Pique will be partnered by Clement Lenglet at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Samuel Umtiti dropping to the bench.
Sergio Busquets will play the anchor role in the middle of the park for the Catalans. Ivan Rakitic will look to support him in the centre, while also offering a creative outlet.
With de Jong ruled out, the third midfield slot will be a toss-up between Arthur, Arturo Vidal and Sergi Roberto, while academy product Riqui Puig is also an option, whom Setien has talked up ahead of the game. Vidal, though, could get the nod due to his experience, despite being linked with a January exit from the club.
Captain and superstar Lionel Messi is a certainty on the right flank, while Suarez’s injury means Antoine Griezmann should move into his preferred central role. That opens up a spot on the left flank for teenage sensation Ansu Fati.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Griezmann, Fati
Granada manager Diego Martinez will be without Fede Vico for the game, along with Neyder Lozano and Quini due to injuries, while Angel Montoro is suspended for the clash. Yangel Herrera and Yan Eteki were doubts for the game, but have travelled with the squad.
— Granada C.F. ❤️⚪️ (@GranadaCdeF) January 18, 2020
Granada will set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rui Silva lining up in goal, who is likely to be a busy man in goal against a dangerous Barcelona attack. Victor Diaz ought to return at right-back having been benched for the cup tie while Carlos Neva should be reinstated at left-back. Domingos Duarte and German Sanchez will pair up at the heart of the defence.
Yan Eteki is likely to occupy one of the two pivot positions in the middle of the park for Granada. But, with Montoro suspended, he is likely to pair up with the fit-again Yangel Herrera. Carlos Fernandez will slot in as the No. 10 and look to provide support to the striker in the final third.
Darwin Machis and Antonio Puertas, who is Granada’s top scorer this term with four strikes to his name, will occupy the flanks and look to provide meaningful service for star striker Roberto Soldado.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Silva; Diaz, Sanchez, Duarte, Neva; Eteki, Herrera; Puertas, Fernandez, Machis; Soldado
- Barcelona have won all 23 of their La Liga home games against Granada – a record 100% home win rate for one side against another in the competition.
- After their 2-0 win at Los Carmenes in September, Granada could win their two games against Barcelona in a single La Liga season for the first time ever.
- Barcelona have not lost any of their last eight La Liga matches (W5 D3), drawing three of their last four (W1).
- Granada have collected 27 points in 19 La Liga games this season (W8 D3 L8), their best total in the first half of a top-flight season with 20 teams.
- Barcelona were top at the halfway point with just 40 points in La Liga this season, the lowest tally of a team top of the table in the first half of a season since themselves in 2006-07, when Real Madrid under Fabio Capello won the title at the end.
Player to Watch
Who else but the little magician. With Barcelona going through a bit of a lean patch, having won just one of their last five matches across all competitions, they will look up to their captain and talisman Lionel Messi to help them out of a difficult situation.
Messi has scored 11 goals in his 11 La Liga games against Granada and eight in his five appearances against them at Camp Nou, scoring two hat-tricks and a brace. Expect him to step up to the plate and deliver the goods for Barcelona, helping them get things back on track.
Barcelona 2-0 Granada
Barcelona’s form hasn’t been all that spectacular heading into the weekend game. However, Quique Setien’s arrival should fill the team with confidence and provide a lift. Granada have won four of their last six games in all competitions, but their opponents in those matches haven’t been at the same level as Barcelona.
The Catalans enjoy a great record against their weekend opponents and have been undefeated at Camp Nou this season. And that is why we at The Hard Tackle are predicting Barcelona to pick up a win in Setien’s first game in-charge of the club.