Barcelona will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways when they take on Cadiz this midweek as Ronald Koeman fights to save his job.
Dark clouds continue to linger over Ronald Koeman’s future as Barcelona look to steer through the latest storm that has hit the club and get their campaign back on the right course when they take on Cadiz at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Thursday night in La Liga.
After a turbulent spell during the summer, the new season has hardly brought in any hope or optimism for Barcelona. The Catalans have already dropped four points from four La Liga matches, with their latest contest ending in a 1-1 draw against a struggling Granada outfit, leaving them eighth in the table, eight points off of leaders Real Madrid, although Koeman & co. do have a couple of games in hand.
Nonetheless, with pressure mounting on the manager with every passing game, it becomes absolutely imperative that Barcelona bring an end to their mini-rut at the earliest and return to winning ways. And, in Cadiz, they might have the perfect opponent to do so. Indeed, Alvaro Cervara’s men have picked up just one win in their five games so far this term.
Having begun the campaign with two draws and two losses, Cadiz finally snapped the poor run, beating Celta Vigo 2-1 this past weekend, which saw them move to 15th place in the table. However, the Blaugrana must be wary of any complacency against the minnows having lost this exact fixture 2-1 in the 2020/21 campaign. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at both teams ahead of this crucial match-up.
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Cadiz have just two players missing from injury with captain Jose Mari and fellow midfielder Jon Ander Garrido sidelined for the visit of Barcelona. Manager Alvaro Cervara could also have an eye on the weekend fixture against Rayo Vallecano – a game that could be more winnable, which may have an effect on his selection against the Catalans.
Nonetheless, the hosts are expected to set up in a 4-3-3 formation, with the focus largely being on staying disciplined and organised in defence and making the most of any counterattacking opportunities to hit Barcelona. Jeremias Ledesma will be manning the Cadiz goal, shielded by the centre-back pairing of Varazdat Haroyan and on-loan Real Madrid ace Victor Chust.
Out on the flanks, Iza Carcelen and Alfonso Espino, who was on target in the last game, ought to hold on to their slots. The duo will largely stay compact and tight at the back to support the centre-backs but will look to spring forward on the break to provide numbers in attack.
Fali will be the man providing further cover to the backline from the holding midfield role. He will have further support from Tomas Alarcon, while Alex Fernandez should take up the third midfield slot and look to provide the forward impetus when on the ball.
Anthony ‘Choco’ Lozano, who scored in the win against Celta Vigo, and Salvi Sanchez ought to occupy the wide roles in attack and try to fashion opportunities for the striker, who ought to be Ruben Sobrino. Alvaro Negredo, who was on target when Cadiz beat Barcelona last year, will be an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ledesma; Carcelen, Haroyan, Chust, Espino; Alarcon, Fali, Fernandez; Sanchez, Sobrino, Lozano
Barcelona, meanwhile, continue to be plagued with injury problems, especially in the attacking unit as Martin Braithwaite, Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero, Ansu Fati all remain unavailable, along with Pedri and Jordi Alba. With Alejandro Balde also picking up an injury in the last game, the Catalans will be without a recognised left-back for the trip to Cadiz.
That could mean Sergino Dest, who played on the left-side of the defence for large parts of the game against Granada, ought to start there, with Oscar Mingueza slotting in at right-back. Ronald Araujo, who was the star of the show for Barcelona last time out, should start at the heart of the defence alongside veteran star Gerard Pique, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal.
Sergio Busquets endured a difficult outing at the weekend and will be hoping to bounce back with a solid performance at the base of the Catalans’ midfield. He will be supported by Frenkie de Jong, who will also be charged with making driving runs forward in an attempt to engineer openings. Youngster Gavi, who impressed after coming on as a sub in the last game, should start in the third slot in the middle.
Yusuf Demir and Memphis Depay ought to retain their places in the attacking unit for Barcelona. And following Luuk de Jong’s uninspiring display off the bench against Granada, Philippe Coutinho might once again be preferred by Koeman when his team takes on Cadiz.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Pique, Dest; de Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Demir, Depay, Coutinho
- Barcelona have failed to win in their last two La Liga games against Cadiz (D1 L1). If they do not win on Thursday it will be their longest winless run against the minnows in the competition.
- Cadiz are winless in their last four home La Liga matches (D1 L3).
- Barcelona have failed to win five of their last eight La Liga games (W3 D4 L1) as many as in their previous 24 matches in the competition.
- Cadiz have scored four of their last five La Liga goals from set-pieces (two penalties and two free-kicks). Three of the last four goals Barcelona have conceded in the competition have come via set-pieces.
- Luuk de Jong is the only current Barcelona player to have scored a goal against Cadiz in La Liga – the first one of his four goals in La Liga 2020/21 for Sevilla.
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We have all been here before, it has been said before, but time is fast running out for Coutinho at Barcelona. The Brazilian was handed a second chance last season by Ronald Koeman but failed to make the most of it before an injury ended his campaign. The summer exits of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann have again ensured that Coutinho gets another lease on life at Camp Nou.
But if he is unsuccessful in taking this opportunity, his time with the Catalans could surely come to an end in the near future. As things stand, he is the seniormost attacker at Barcelona and the onus is on him to step up and be the leader up top and provide Memphis Depay quality support to help the team out of their semi-rut.
Cadiz 0-1 Barcelona
Cadiz ended their winless run in the new season with an away win against Celta Vigo last time out. However, their form at home of late hasn’t been much to write home about. As for Barcelona, morale seems to be down within the camp after the recent results, while the situation surrounding Koeman makes things even more difficult.
Nonetheless, despite the injuries, there should be enough quality on the field for the Catalans to clinch a narrow victory over their less-fancied opponents on Thursday. Anything other than three points, though, could see the axe fall on the manager rapidly.