Barcelona visit El Sadar in La Liga to face Osasuna, as they hope to win a third successive match in a week’s time across all competitions.
Barcelona travel to Osasuna on Saturday evening for their La Liga fixture. The Catalans are in a good run of form this season and will be on high spirits after a comeback in the Copa del Rey against Sevilla, which has set them up for a final next month. Barca must take full advantage at El Sadar as one or both of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid will falter in the derby.
Ronald Koeman’s latest injury issue is in the shape of Gerard Pique, who has another niggle in his knee. The Dutchman will not rotate his squad against the side which took four out of six points from the Blaugrana last season, primarily because of the importance of this fixture in the club’s bid to continue an upward surge in the league standings.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen will keep his place in goal. The German, as always, is in good form and having saved a penalty against Sevilla, he once again proved his importance to the side. Koeman may once again prefer a 3-5-2 formation, which has seen the attacking unit benefit.
Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza will start in the heart of defence. A wholesale list of absentees means Samuel Umtiti will also get the nod. The trio will be tasked with keeping a four-man attack from the opposition at bay. Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest will occupy the left and right wingback roles, respectively, hoping to produce the attacking thrust from outwide.
Miralem Pjanic could be employed in a defensive midfielder’s role, with Frenkie de Jong starting in a slightly advanced position. Riqui Puig’s good run of form could see him get the nod ahead of Sergio Busquets, who is expected to get a rest. The midfield battle will be key and all the creative players will have to provide good chances to the attackers.
Lionel Messi, who is topping the La Liga charts will look to extend his fine form when he starts in a two-man strike partnership with Antoine Griezmann. The duo is starting to click at the right time for Koeman, and all eyes will be on them to deliver. A win for Barca and a draw in the Madrid Derby could throw La Liga wide open.