Barcelona will be aiming to continue their ascent on the La Liga table when they lock horns with SD Eibar at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening.
Matchday 16 of the 2020/21 La Liga kicks off this midweek and title hopefuls Barcelona will be in action on Tuesday when they welcome a lowly SD Eibar outfit to Camp Nou.
After a disastrous start to the campaign, Barcelona have somewhat corrected their course of late and find themselves in the fifth place in La Liga, but are already eight points below leaders Atletico Madrid. Having beaten Valladolid 3-0 in their last match, Ronald Koeman’s men are now on a four-game unbeaten run (W3 D1) and will be aiming to carry forward that momentum on Tuesday.
Eibar, meanwhile, find themselves in the 17th position in the table, just three points above the relegation zone. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side have lost their last two games against Real Madrid and Alaves, and are without a win in their last four (D2 L2). Los Armeros will be hoping to capitalise on Barcelona’s inconsistent form this season and come away with at least a point from Camp Nou.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Barcelona hammer Eibar 5-0, with Lionel Messi scoring four and Arthur Melo netting the other. And, ahead of their latest fixture on Tuesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Barcelona will have a couple of major absentees to deal with on Tuesday as Jordi Alba is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season while Lionel Messi will not be involved as he recovers from an ankle problem. Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati remain long-term absentees.
Having seen his team succeed with a three-man defensive setup against Valladolid last time out, Ronald Koeman is expected to stick with the same setup come Tuesday. Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a certainty between the sticks and should be guarded by three centre-backs Oscar Mingueza, Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet.
Sergino Dest, who has impressed early in his spell at Camp Nou, should get the nod as the right-sided wing-back while Junior Firpo should come into the side replacing the unavailable Alba on the left. Miralem Pjanic did enough in the last game to deserve another start over Sergio Busquets in midfield alongside Frenkie de Jong.
Messi’s absence should pave the way for Antoine Griezmann to start as one of the two attacking midfielders against Eibar. He will accompany teenage sensation Pedri in the final third, with Martin Braithwaite starting as the striker. The likes of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele will provide further options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet; Dest, Pjanic, de Jong, Firpo; Griezmann, Pedri; Braithwaite
Sergi Enrich, Yoshinori Muto and Damian Kadzior all missed the game against Alaves due to injury/illness but are back in the travelling squad for Tuesday’s game. Cote and Rober Correa remain out on the sidelines, while Anaitz Arbilla, Bryan Gil and Kevin Rodrigues are also ruled out.
— SD Eibar (@SDEibar) December 28, 2020
Jose Luis Mendilibar set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in the last match but is likely to revert to the 4-4-2 shape. Marko Dmitrovic ought to start in goal for Eibar, with the four-man defence of Alejandro Pozo, Pedro Bigas, Esteban Burgos and Rafa Soares shielding him.
The entire defensive unit will have its task cut out against what is likely to be a dynamic and dangerous Barcelona attacking contingent even though Lionel Messi is unavailable.
Pape Diop will sit in the middle of the park and look to break up play before it develops into anything dangerous. The 34-year-old veteran star will have support from Edu Exposito, who will also look to push forward in the attacking phases. The creative onus will lie on the shoulders of the two wide men, Pedro Leon and Takashi Inui.
With Enrich available for selection, he is likely to slot in alongside Kike Garcia up top for Eibar, although Yoshinori Muto is also a contender for a starting berth. Quique Gonzalez will provide additional firepower from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Dmitrovic; Pozo, Bigas, Burgos, Soares; Leon, Exposito, Diop, Inui; Garcia, Enrich
- Barcelona have won 91.7% of their La Liga games against Eibar (GP12 W11 D1) – their biggest win percentage against an opponent in the competition (min. 5 games).
- Eibar have suffered their two biggest margin defeats in La Liga games against Barcelona, both at Camp Nou, 1-6 in September 2017 and 0-5 in February 2020.
- At home, Barcelona have won their six La Liga games against Eibar, scoring at least three goals in each of these games and keeping three clean sheets, including in their last two such encounters.
- Since a 1-2 defeat to Alaves in 2016, Barcelona have not lost any of their last 16 La Liga games at Camp Nou against Basque sides, winning 15 of them (D1).
- Barcelona have avoided defeat in their last four La Liga matches (W3 D1) – their longest unbeaten run under new manager Ronald Koeman.
Player to Watch
Just 18 years of age, the youngster, who arrived at Barcelona from Las Palmas, is already making quite the name for himself. In 19 appearances across all competitions (12 starts), Pedri has scored two goals and set up one more, with his performance against Valladolid last time out being a particular standout this season.
The teenager’s displays have seen him garner a lot of praise from manager Ronald Koeman and he will be hoping to continue in the same vein of form and help Barcelona close the gap to the top with a win against Eibar on Tuesday evening.
Barcelona 2-1 Eibar
While they are still yet to reach their best, Barcelona are slowly starting to string together a positive run of results and have won three of their last four games in La Liga (D1). Eibar, meanwhile, have slipped up of late, failing to win their last four in the league.
Recent form, coupled with Barcelona’s superior record at Camp Nou over their opponents puts them as clear favourites heading into Tuesday’s game. And even though they will be without two key players in Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba, Ronald Koeman’s side should have enough to prevail against Eibar and pick up three points.