La Liga strugglers Cadiz as set for a stern test against high-flying Barcelona, who are vying to keep up the pace at the top of the standings.

Cadiz have been struggling since the start of the season, and Sergio Gonzalez will be eager to get a grip on the league. Having seen four games pass by them without getting even a single point, the La Liga strugglers are pinned to the bottom of the standings.

It’s only the third season in the top flight for Cadiz, as they know of a big task ahead of them if they wish to stay afloat. In their first campaign in La Liga, the strugglers finished an impressive 12th, but last season their dismal performances saw them marginally escape relegation and finish 17th.

While Gonzalez is looking to stabilise his side’s performances after four straight defeats in La Liga this season, their quest will surely be hampered by this clash with Barcelona. With the Catalans in tremendous form, the planned quest for revival may have to wait longer.

In contrast to Cadiz’s form, Barcelona is flying high as Xavi Hernandez is on course to catch Real Madrid at the top of the table. The Catalans have been growing as a team and producing scintillating attacking displays. They had no problems beating Sevilla last weekend, which pushed them into second after Real Betis lost to Madrid.

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Meanwhile, in midweek, Barcelona proved too strong for Champions League opponents Viktoria Plzen, with Robert Lewandowski scoring a hattrick in a 5-1 mauling. The victory certainly gives the Catalans plenty of momentum, and the next set of fixtures barring European commitments, are favourable for Xavi.

The idea would be to keep getting three points in the bag with the hope of seeing Real Madrid drop off at some stage. Even if their rivals continue their winning streak, Xavi would at least want his team to keep up the momentum and keep the gap at a bare minimum.

Team News & Tactics

Cadiz

Gonzalez has few issues with his squad but will be able to name a strong lineup from the available players. In terms of absentees, Jon Ander Garrido will be out again with a knee problem, while Ruben Alcarez remains doubtful about the clash.

The manager could look to make minor tweaks to his side, with a few attacking players in danger of losing their spots. The likes of Anthony Lozano and Brian Ocampo could make way for names like Lucas Perez, Alex and Ruben Sobrino.

Gonzalez could field his preferred 4-1-4-1 shape, with Fede sitting at the base of midfield. Antonio Blanco and Tomas Alarcon will play slightly ahead of him, with Ivan Alejo and Sobrino playing in wide areas. Perez will lead the line if the manager decides to try something different from Lozano.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1)Ledesma; Zaldua, Hernandez, Chust, Espino; Fede; Alejo, Blanco, Alarcon, Sobrino; Perez

Barcelona

Xavi will be delighted to have an entire squad at his disposal while integrating new names that arrived on transfer deadline day. Sergi Roberto had a slight muscular problem in midweek but is expected to feature in the squad.

Meanwhile, Xavi confirmed new names Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso are ready to join the matchday squad, although they may have to wait for their full debuts. The manager may not be ready to make too many changes to the team that has been growing in confidence.

Hence the understanding is that the back four will remain intact, with Jules Kounde the likely choice at right-back. Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia could continue their central defensive partnership, with the left-back spot likely to remain with youngster Alejandro Balde.

Sergio Busquets will continue to hold the midfield with Gavi and Pedri, his trusted lieutenants, on either side. Lewandowski will continue to lead the line with Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele supporting from wide areas.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3)Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Garcia, Balde; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembele

Key Stats

  • Cadiz are unbeaten against Barcelona in their last four La Liga clashes.
  • Cadiz have failed to score in their last 4 matches in La Liga.
  • Cadiz have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 3 matches.
  • Barcelona are undefeated in their last 17 away matches in La Liga.
  • Barcelona have won with at least a 3-goal margin in their last 3 matches in La Liga.

Player to Watch

Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski notched his eighth goal in Barcelona colours with a midweek hattrick against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League. The 34-year-old was brought in to give Barca an edge in the final third, and the Pole has so far proved doubters wrong.

The 34-year-old has shown no signs of stopping, and the upcoming league games could work massively in his favour. Xavi would want the momentum going with Lewandowski, although the striker will be wary of the responsibility he has on his shoulders for this long campaign.

Prediction

Cadiz 0-3 Barcelona

The Catalans have been getting into the sort of form everyone previously associated them with. There’s an increasing fluidity with this team, and Cadiz may have to face them at the worst possible time. Barcelona are expected to get the goals and points here.

The home side have thoroughly struggled this season, and the bad results are expected to continue with the Barcelona clash. Gonzalez will be hoping to begin a revival quest with this team, something that will have to wait until after this clash.

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