Barcelona will be looking to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns with Deportivo Alaves away from home in La Liga this weekend.

Barcelona will be hoping to end their run of three games without a win across all competitions when they travel to Estadio de Mendizorrotza to take on Deportivo Alaves in La Liga on Sunday night.

Barcelona started the new year with two wins in two games but have since failed to pick up a victory in their last three. After drawing 1-1 against Granada in La Liga, the Blaugrana lost 3-2 to Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercup before facing another defeat by the same scoreline against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey. 

Xavi Hernandez’s side are currently seventh in the table, just a point shy of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid. However, the gap could widen as Los Rojiblancos play Valencia on Saturday night, and they will need to bag all three points to keep up the pressure in the top-four race. 

Alaves, meanwhile, find themselves locked in the relegation battle as they sit second from bottom, with just 17 points from 21 games. They have gone without a win in their last eight matches across all competitions. New manager Jose Luis Mendilibar, who took over the reins in late December, is still searching for his first win, although he did lead the team to draws against Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao.

However, the Babazorros head into the contest against Barcelona on the back of a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Real Betis. With 17th-placed RCD Mallorca just three points away, Alaves will be hoping to start racking up victories as they look to make the most of the Catalan giants’ recent struggles.

Team News & Tactics

Deportivo Alaves

Deportivo Alaves, who will be celebrating their 101st anniversary on Sunday, will be without Ximo Navarro and Ruben Duarte for the game due to injuries. In addition, Mamadou Loum will also be unavailable as he is away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Jose Luis Mendilibar will set his team up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco. Florian Lejeune and Victor Laguardia ought to pair up at the heart of the defence for the home team. Martin Aguirregabiria and Javier Lopez should slot in as the full-backs, with both expected to stay tight and compact at the back.

The onus of keeping things in check in the middle of the park will fall on Toni Moya and Gonzalo Escalante. Their primary task will be to prevent Barcelona’s midfield runners from having a major impact going forward. Jason and Luis Rioja will provide the attacking threat from the wide areas and look to exploit the spaces left behind by the Barcelona full-backs.

The wingers will act as the main supply line of chances for the two central strikers, who ought to be Edgar Mendez and Joselu.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pacheco; Aguirregabiria, Lejeune, Laguardia, Lopez; Jason, Escalante, Moya, Rioja; Mendez, Joselu

Barcelona

Barcelona will have to make do without teenage wonderkid Ansu Fati after he had a recurrence of his previous muscle injury in the midweek encounter. The teenager joins long-term absentee Sergi Roberto on the sidelines while Samuel Umtiti is also ruled out due to a broken foot. Eric Garcia is also an injury-enforced absentee, while midfield prodigy Gavi is suspended for the game after his sending off against Granada.

Xavi Hernandez will line his team up in a 4-3-3 formation as usual. Ronald Araujo and Gerard Pique ought to form the centre-back pairing that will shield goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Dani Alves, who produced a stunning assist in the midweek tie, should continue at right-back while Jordi Alba will start on the left. The Spaniard will need to up his game after a stinker against Athletic Bilbao.

Captain Sergio Busquets will anchor the midfield as usual and look to thwart any attempts at counter-attacks from the home team. Frenkie de Jong, whose future has been called into question, should start along with Pedri, who scored in the defeat to Athletic in the Copa del Rey clash earlier in the week. If Xavi decides not to risk the Golden Boy 2021 winner, Nico Gonzalez could get the nod.

Fati’s injury and Ousmane Dembele’s exile reduce the attacking options at the manager’s disposal in the final third. Ferran Torres, who scored his first goal for Barcelona in midweek, becomes a certain starter on the right flank while B team prospect Ez Abde should come into the team on the left. Luuk de Jong, who has scored in each of his three appearances in 2022, should start as the No. 9.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Pique, Alba; Frenkie de Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Torres, Luuk de Jong, Abde

Key Stats

  • Barcelona are undefeated in their last seven away La Liga games against Alaves (W4 D3). They have kept a clean sheet in six of these encounters.
  • Alaves have failed to win in their last ten La Liga matches against Barcelona (D2 L8).
  • Barcelona have won only two of their last ten away games in La Liga (D6 L2).
  • Alaves have drawn each of their last three La Liga matches at home.
  • Barcelona have scored their last three goals in La Liga through headers, with Luuk de Jong netting two of those.

Player to Watch

Ferran Torres

Making just his second appearance for Barcelona in midweek against Athletic Bilbao, the 21-year-old January arrival scored his first goal and showed a lot of positives. With Ousmane Dembele unlikely to be called upon due to his contract situation and Ansu Fati suffering yet another injury setback, there will be a lot riding on new signing Ferran Torres as Barcelona look to salvage their season.

Set to make his La Liga debut for his new club on Sunday night, the Spanish international will be hoping to lead the Blaugrana to a much-needed victory at the Mendizorrotza.

Prediction

Deportivo Alaves 0-2 Barcelona

Alaves started the year with two important draws against Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao, but were sloppy and disappointing last time out as Real Betis gave them a proper thrashing. And despite their recent missteps, Barcelona have enough quality in their ranks to get past their relegation-battling hosts.

Luuk de Jong, who is in good form, will return to the side while Ferran Torres has made a good start to life with the Catalan giants. Pedri also scored in midweek against Athletic. So the Blaugrana should be able to register a fairly comfortable victory on Sunday night to put an end to their three-game winless streak.

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