The second Barça game of the week comes on Saturday evening against Alaves at the Camp Nou. We’re back at home for this game, for the first time since our loss to Real Madrid in El Clasico. It was an incredible atmosphere on the day, with more than 85,000 fans in attendance. The same number isn’t expected for tomorrow’s game. But it will be interesting to see what the atmosphere is like. Following the sacking of Ronald Koeman in Midweek. Barça B Coach, Sergi Barjuan has taken over in an interim basis, whilst the club finalise the arrival of the new head coach. We aren’t expecting a dramatic change in quality or performance. But I think the most intriguing part will be the lineup. Will we see something a little different from the usual set up under koeman. Nothing is going to change drastically, but all of the recent events could act as a boost for the fans. A bit of encouragement perhaps.
Coming into the game, we find ourselves in an unfamiliar 9th place in La Liga. 6 points off the top 4 with a game in hand over the other teams. We are also currently 9 points off the league Leaders, Real Sociedad. Every game from this point onwards should be treated as a final. Of course, it is still early days.
And with a new coach coming in, we will still have a lot of time to make things right. To get back on track. But we desperately need to start chasing down the other teams, and racking up the points. Our main goal this season is mainly just to guarantee getting in the top 4. And the way things have been going recently, we are slowly slipping further and further away from that goal. Like mentioned before, with a new coach coming in, hopefully they will put things back on track!
Recent form of our opponent
Alaves started the season off really badly. Losing in 5 consecutive games by at least 2 goals or more. That run eventually came to an end, when they surprisingly beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 at home. They then followed that impressive result up with 2 losses against Real Betis and Athletic Club, followed by a 2-0 win against Cadiz. Their most recent game came on Tuesday against Elche. Where they were able to pick up a narrow 1-0 win. Before the Barça match, Alaves find themselves in 16th Place. Which sounds quite worrying for them.
But when you consider that Barça are only 6 points ahead of Alaves, it makes the situation look even worse for us. Tomorrow’s game is one that we have to win. A home game vs Alaves in the evening in front of our own Barça fans. We should be winning this game. No excuses whatsoever. Yes, the game is once again going to be tricky and difficult. But regardless of what happens. Or who we lineup with. It’s a game we simply have to win. For our own sake this season.
Once again, thanks to our incredibly effective medical department, we have a lot of absentees from tomorrow’s game. And there not just any absentees, we really do have some important players missing. Araujo is still on the sidelines nursing an injury, likewise with Pedri. The latter may still not be fully ready for another couple of weeks. Frenkie De Jong is also out of tomorrow’s game with a hamstring injury.
Ansu, although he isn’t injured, he is still nursing some discomfort. And the club don’t want to make any unnecessary risks with him, so he will most likely miss the match tomorrow. Dembele is close to coming back, but his return seems more probable to come in the game against Dynamo Kiev next week. And finally, Sergi Roberto is now ruled out of the game due to some muscle discomfort. All of this, combined with the fact that Sergi Barjuan is temporarily taking over first team duties. It’s more than likely that we will see quite a few changes in the lineup. I don’t think Aguero will start. He’s only just come back from injury, so it would be stupid to start him consecutively. But he is a guarantee to come off the bench.
Surprises in the starting lineup?
In the midfield, we are short for options. However, we do have a lot of young talent waiting on the sidelines. Could we see a first appearance of the season for Riqui Puig? He was exiled from the team under koeman, but will he finally get a chance to prove his worth now? Nico Gonzalez was absolutely fantastic against Rayo on Wednesday. He produced a man of the match performance. So he could start the game.
In defence, again, we are limited for options. Pique played through a lot of pain in the Clasico, and hasn’t really had a rest all season. So I think it would be a good idea to drop him. Eric Garcia looks likely to keep his place, so maybe Mingueza could come into replace Pique. Whatever the lineup is, however we set up. The only thing we need to worry about is winning the game. It’s imperative that we win tomorrow. And hopefully we can see a performance with a lot more enthusiasm than in recent weeks.
Dest- Garcia- Mingueza- Alba
Riqui Puig- Busquets- Gavi
Demir- Memphis- Coutinho