Following a 4-1 battering from PSG, FC Barcelona resume their La Liga campaign on Sunday as they welcome Cadiz at Nou Camp.
FC Barcelona are in for another chaotic end to a campaign as talks of mediocrity have already started surfacing in the aftermath of a 4-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
While the game cannot be written off as long as there is a second leg, it is a herculean task – one, in hindsight, looks almost improbable against a well-oiled PSG unit coached by Mauricio Pochettino. Yet, Barcelona plan to gain some momentum back when they lock horns with Cadiz in La Liga this weekend.
The Catalans have been in inspired form in the league, having won all of their last seven games in the competition. This run of results has helped the club bridge the gap to league leaders Atletico Madrid to nine points, with the club’s hopes further propelled by Atleti’s recent draws with Levante and Celta Vigo.
However, securing all three points against Cadiz will be no walk in the park – as proven in the reverse fixture where the Andalusians had registered a famous 2-1 victory. Although they have struggled since and are currently on a four-game losing stream, Barcelona will have plenty of reasons to remain cautious as Ronald Koeman eyes an extraordinary comeback in the title race.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their important match-up in La Liga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Gerard Pique is hoping for a better time after making a disastrous comeback in the defeat to PSG in midweek. With Ronald Araujo still on the sidelines, the onus will be on him to provide the stability and leadership in the Barcelona backline alongside Clement Lenglet, although Ronald Koeman also has the option of Samuel Umtiti.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2021
Sergino Dest had an awful evening dealing with Kylian Mbappe on Tuesday, but remains favourite for the right-back slot, with Jordi Alba and Marc-Andre ter Stegen also likely to retain their respective places in Barcelona defence. Their job will be to provide the support going forward, with Dest, in particular, looking to use his pace and dynamism to cause problems for the opposition.
The Catalans are desperately looking for stability in the middle of the park, so it will be interesting to see whether Koeman persists with Sergio Busquets in the number six role, especially with Miralem Pjanic also an option.
Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, on the other hand, are guaranteed starters in the two advanced midfield roles as they hope to provide the creativity that could be vital to Barcelona’s chance creation in the final third.
And finally, the hosts’ attack should once again be spearheaded by Lionel Messi, although it won’t be surprising to see Koeman reward Francisco Trincao with a rare start following his impressive performances in recent weeks. He could replace Ousmane Dembele, and partner Antoine Griezmann in the wider attacking positions.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, de Jong; Trincao, Messi, Griezmann
Cadiz don’t have much injury issues heading into this game, with Carlos Akapo and Jose Mari the only ones absent due to injury. On the contrary, Marcos Mauro should return from a suspension and may even start at centre-back, alongside Pedro Alcala.
— Cádiz Club de Fútbol (@Cadiz_CF) February 20, 2021
Alvaro Cervera is one of many Spanish coaches who have preferred a 4-4-2 approach this year, with two banks of four set to make life difficult for Barcelona during possession phases. The emphasis will be on disrupting the flow of the three Barca midfielders and it won’t be surprising to the two midfielders in Jens Jonsson and Fali to operate deep to aid the two centre-backs.
As far as the attack is concerned, the fullbacks Iza Carcelen and Alfonso Espino, though likely to play deep, are set to play a key role in launching the counter attacks with their forward balls.
That is where the pace of Salvi Sanchez and Alberto Perea could be useful as the duo looks to make constant runs in behind the backline, seeking advantage of Barcelona’s lack of pace in defence.
Cadiz have an option B as well, with Choco Lozano and Alvaro Negredo operating as target men. They are the obvious options from set-pieces, with the former having already netted six goals this term.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Ledesma; Iza, Alcala, Mauro, Espino; Sanchez, Jonsson, Fali, Perea; Lozano, Negredo
- After six wins in a row between 1991 and 2006, Barcelona lost their last La Liga game against Cadiz, 1-2 in the reverse fixture this season while they have never failed to win in two games in a single La Liga season against them.
- Only against Atletico Madrid (92%) have Cadiz posted a higher loss percentage away in La Liga than FC Barcelona (91%).
- Barcelona have just lost one of their last 19 home league games against Andalusian sides, 3-4 vs Real Betis in November 2018.
- Barcelona have collected 21 out of 21 points available in their last seven league games, after winning only 19 of the previous 39.
- Cadiz are winless in their last seven away league games, losing the last two. They haven’t lost three in a row away from home this season.
Player to Watch
Pedri is slowly becoming a key player for FC Barcelona, with his creativity in the middle of the park making him one of the main sources of chance creation for the Catalan outfit. He created multiple chances even in the defeat to PSG and is set to play a key role as the Blaugrana lock horns with a Cadiz unit that is going to defend deep.
The 18-year-old is particularly adept when it comes to squeezing into tight spaces, using his impressive control over the ball. In addition, the Spaniard can find narrow spaces to pass into, which should influence the likes of Griezmann and Trincao to make useful runs behind the Cadiz backline.
It will also be interesting to see how Pedri operate alongside Messi and de Jong in Barcelona’s creative unit in the final third – making him one to watch out for in this fixture.
FC Barcelona 2-1 Cadiz
Despite the shock 4-1 defeat to PSG, Barcelona have been quite solid at Nou Camp, especially in La Liga. Although they are likely to face defensive issues, especially when defending set-pieces, we expect their attackers and chance creators to come out on top, despite Cadiz’s deep defensive line. This game could be decided on a fine margin, though.