Barcelona will be aiming to get back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats when they take on Osasuna at El Sadar in La Liga this weekend.
Following the disappointment of an early exit from the UEFA Champions League, Barcelona will turn their attention back towards salvaging their domestic campaign when they travel to Estadio El Sadar to take on Osasuna on Sunday afternoon.
After a fairly steady start to life as Barcelona manager last month, Xavi Hernandez has suffered consecutive defeats over the past week, first losing 1-0 to Real Betis in La Liga, which was followed by the 3-0 hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, leading to their elimination. The result was a harsh reality check for the Catalans, who have a long and hard road in front of them to get back to the top.
As for their prospects in La Liga, things do not look all too bright as Barcelona are seventh in the table, 16 points off of leaders Real Madrid. However, they are just six points shy of Atletico Madrid in fourth, and they will be aiming to cut down that gap with a win, considering that Los Rojiblancos will be involved in the derby against Los Merengues on Sunday night.
Osasuna, meanwhile, are 11th in the La Liga table, just two points behind the Blaugrana, though and could jump past them with a victory at home this weekend. Jagoba Arrasate’s men are unbeaten in their last three games in all competitions, although two of those ended in draws, including their latest encounter against Levante.
However, Los Rojillos will take confidence from the fact that they have already held Real Madrid to a goalless draw this season and will look to repeat the same feat when Barcelona come visiting on Sunday. Ahead of this David vs Goliath encounter coming our way from El Sadar, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— C. A. OSASUNA (@CAOsasuna) December 11, 2021
Osasuna have just two injury-enforced absentees for the Barcelona clash as Juan Perez and Jesus Areso are ruled out of the contest. Jagoba Arrasate will set his team up in a 5-3-2 formation, hoping to cut out any spaces for the Barcelona forwards to work with in the final third. The focus will be on keeping the defensive discipline while looking to pick apart the visitors on counter-attacks.
Juan Cruz, Unai Garcia and David Garcia ought to be the three centre-halves guarding Sergio Herrera in the Osasuna goal. Additional defensive support will come from the full-backs, Nacho Vidal and Manu Sanchez, who will look to stay compact at the back.
27-year-old Lucas Torro should hold the fort in the middle of the park and look to stifle Barcelona’s midfield runners. He will have support from Darko Brasanac and Jon Moncayola, although the latter will also be tasked with providing the attacking impetus when Osasuna are in possession.
Up top, the goal threat will be provided by the strike partnership of Chimy Avila and Ante Budimir, although Kike Garcia could also be an option for Arrasate to consider.
Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Herrera; Vidal, U. Garcia, D. Garcia, Cruz, Sanchez; Moncayola, Torro, Brasanac; Avila, Budimir
Barcelona’s injury issues do not seem to be letting up. The Catalans have dealt another double blow with Jordi Alba and Memphis Depay getting ruled out of their trip to Osasuna. The pair joins Pedri, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero out on the sidelines while Dani Alves remains ineligible to play. Youngster Ferran Jutgla has been called up from the B team.
Xavi will have some selection headaches going into this game, especially in the final third of the pitch due to a lack of personnel. No major changes are expected at the back, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen continuing in goal. Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo should line up at the heart of the Barca defence while Sergino Dest and youngster Alejandro Balde slot in as the full-backs.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 11, 2021
Moving into the midfield department, there is no looking past captain Sergio Busquets in the No. 6 role. Alongside the veteran star, Frenkie de Jong and Nico Gonzalez are expected to feature from the off, with the duo expected to make forward runs to try and add numbers in the final third of the pitch. Gavi is likely to be given a breather, with the teenager needing some rest.
Youngster Abde Ezzalzouli has shown enough promise in his handful of appearances to warrant another run-out on the flanks against Osasuna. The teenager could slot in on the left side, while Ousmane Dembele, who showed some positives in the defeat to Bayern Munich, could get the nod on the right flank.
Given the lack of options in the No. 9 role, out-of-favour striker Luuk de Jong could get a rare start on Sunday, although Xavi might also go the way of deploying Yusuf Demir through the middle.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Araujo, Balde; de Jong, Busquets, Nico; Dembele, de Jong, Abde
- Barcelona have lost only one of their last ten La Liga games against Osasuna (W7 D2). They have kept a clean sheet in five of their previous eight matches against Los Rojillos in the competition.
- Osasuna have won only one of their last nine home games in La Liga (D4 L4).
- Barcelona have come out on top in only six of their first 15 La Liga games this season (D5 L4), their lowest tally at this stage of a league campaign in the competition since 2003/04.
- Osasuna’s Roberto Torres has scored four goals in eight La Liga games against Barcelona, more than against any other opponent.
- Barcelona have failed to score in three of their first six La Liga matches this term for the first time in a single campaign in the competition since 2007/08.
Player to Watch
✍ (DEMBÉLÉ): Ousmane Dembélé's agent has still not responded to Barcelona's latest contract offer.
• However, the club will not change the terms and will wait for the response.
• He has received big offers from Premier League clubs.#FCB 🇫🇷
— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) December 11, 2021
While the headlines continue to be dominated by the Frenchman’s contract situation, on Sunday, he will get a chance to show why Barcelona should splash the big bucks to extend his deal. Given the number of injuries that the Catalans are dealing with, the 24-year-old could end up being the seniormost attacker on the pitch on Sunday afternoon. And, he will need to step up and own that responsibility to help Barcelona arrest their slump with a win.
Osasuna 1-1 Barcelona
Osasuna are a relatively solid side defensively and have let in just one goal in their last three games in all competitions. They will be coming up against a Barcelona side who have been very goal-shy this season and will also be without their top scorer in Memphis Depay and key creator in Jordi Alba. So, all things point toward a low-scoring affair in Pamplona, which is likely to end up with the spoils shared given the recent form of both teams.