An underfire Barcelona side will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they host Granada in La Liga on Monday night.

After a turbulent week on and off the pitch, Barcelona will be hoping to bounce back strongly when they lock horns with a struggling Granada outfit at Camp Nou in Matchweek 5 of the 2021/22 La Liga on Monday.

Barcelona have made a mixed start to the new season, and although they are unbeaten in La Liga so far, the pressure is already starting to mount on manager Ronald Koeman after the Catalans’ meek surrender against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League group stages earlier in the week.

The former Netherlands’ boss has responded to the critics with some strong words, but if things don’t improve on the pitch, time could be running out fast for him in the Barcelona hotseat. Thankfully for Koeman, he and his team will be coming up against a Granada side that are currently going through a rough patch.

Indeed, Robert Moreno’s men are fourth from the bottom in the table, having failed to win a single of their four games so far (D2 L2), losing each of their last two against Rayo Vallecano (4-0) and Real Betis (1-2). They will be hoping to bounce back and get at least a point, but things will not be easy for the Nazaries when they visit Camp Nou on Monday.

Team News & Tactics

Barcelona

Barcelona continue to be plagued with a host of injury issues across the pitch. Jordi Alba is the latest player to be sidelined, along with midfield sensation Pedri, while the likes of Sergio Aguero, Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite are all unavailable. Sergino Dest has trained this week, though, and could be available for selection against Granada.

Having employed a three-man defence in the loss to Bayern, Ronald Koeman is expected to switch to the 4-3-3 formation on Monday night with Marc-Andre ter Stegen lining up in goal. Gerard Pique is a certainty to feature in defence due to his experience, and should be partnered by Ronald Araujo who has looked good.

While Dest is back in training, Oscar Mingueza is likely to get the nod at right-back with Koeman hoping to effectively manage the workload of the squad. On the left, Alba’s injury means teenage starlet Alejandro Balde is in line for his first La Liga start after having made his debut for the first team coming on as a substitute against Bayern.

Sergio Busquets is nailed down in the anchorman role while Frenkie de Jong is also a guaranteed starter, with the onus of providing the forward thrust from the middle on his shoulders. The third slot in the centre could be a toss-up between Sergi Roberto and young Gavi, with the latter likely to get the nod on Monday, although Philippe Coutinho is also an option.

Memphis Depay is a guaranteed starter in attack for Barcelona. The Dutchman ought to line up on the right flank, paving the way for Coutinho to start on the left, with Yusuf Demir being an option from the bench. Summer signing Luuk de Jong ought to line up as the centre-forward for the Blaugrana.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Araujo, Balde; de Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Depay, de Jong, Coutinho

Granada

Unlike Barcelona, Granada do not have many injury concerns ahead of their trip to Catalonia. In fact, manager Robert Moreno will just be without the services of Neyder Lozano for the clash on Monday night at Camp Nou. Like their opposition, the visitors will also set up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Luis Maximiano protecting the goal.

Domingos Duarte and German Sanchez ought to be the two centre-halves tasked with dealing with the threat posed by Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay while Santiago Arias and Carlos Neva should feature out wide as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

Maxime Gonalons ought to sit the deepest of the three central midfielders and look to keep a lid on Barcelona’s midfield runners. He should be supported by veteran midfielder Angel Montero while the third spot in the centre of the park could be taken up by ex-Barca ace, Monchu, who made the switch to Granada this past summer.

Moving into the attacking unit, Alberto Soro and Darwin Machis are expected to line up as the wide forwards who will have the onus of acting as the supply line for striker Luis Suarez, who has scored two goals so far in the new season. Summer arrival Carlos Bacca will provide added option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Maximiano; Arias, Duarte, Sanchez, Neva; Montero, Gonalons, Monchu; Soro, Suarez, Machis

Key Stats

  • Barcelona have lost two of their last four matches against Granada in La Liga (W2), as many defeats as in their previous 27 matches against them in the competition before this.
  • Granada are winless in their last nine La Liga matches (D3 L6), earning just two points in 2021/22 (D2 L2), which equals their worst total at this stage of the competition in the 21st century.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in their three games in La Liga in 2020/21 (W2 D1).
  • Luis Suarez has scored both of Granada’s goals in La Liga this season. He has scored a total of seven goals in league competition for the club.
  • Luuk de Jong is the only current Barcelona player to have previously scored a goal against Granada in La Liga, finding the back of the net in January 2020 as a Sevilla player.

Player to Watch

Memphis Depay

Given the plight of this current Barcelona attack due to injuries and departures, Memphis Depay automatically becomes the most important player in the final third. Having arrived only this past summer, the 27-year-old has made a solid impression early in his spell at Camp Nou, bagging two goals and an assist in three La Liga outings.

It is now up to him to take over the mantle of the leader of the Catalans’ attacking unit and, along with compatriot Luuk de Jong, help usher in a new era at the club.

Prediction

Barcelona 2-0 Granada

Barcelona are under intense pressure after their debacle against Bayern Munich when they were thoroughly outplayed by their opponents. However, on Monday, they will be coming up against a Granada team that is struggling to get going under a new manager and have lost two games in a row. A straightforward win for the Catalans should be on the cards, thus, alleviating some pressure off of Ronald Koeman.

Leave A Comment...

*