preview | 2016-12-09
La Liga Round 15 - Match Preview - Osasuna vs Barcelona
Barça visits the team with the worst record in La Liga this season seeking to bounce back from three consecutive draws
Barcelona travel to Pamplona on Saturday afternoon to take on Osasuna in the Estadio El Sadar in a game that Luis Enrique's team desperately need to win to get their title aspirations back on track.
Osasuna come into the game in terrible form having lost their last five games in all competitions and with just one victory under their belt this season. They sit bottom of La Liga with seven points from their 14 games and are currently five points from safety. Only Leganés (11) have scored less than Osasuna’s 13 goals and only Granada (30) have conceded more than Osasuna’s 29 goals. Just two of their seven points in La Liga have come at home and that is largely due to the fact they have only scored four goals at the Estadio El Sadar which is the worst record in the top flight. Osasuna’s sole victory this season came in October when they won 3-2 away to Eibar thanks to a Sergio León brace and a second half winner from Roberto Torres. As things stand they are on course for a return to the Segunda at the first time of asking unless they can turn things around in the coming weeks and months.
The man hoping to turn around the clubs fortunes is their veteran manager, Joaquín Caparrós. Caparrós has only been in the job for little over a month but he has accumulated a wealth of experience in a coaching career that is now in it’s 35th year. Caparrós first went into management in 1981 and Osasuna are the 19th club in a career that will be best remembered for spells at Sevilla (2000-05) and Athletic Bilbao (2007-11). Osasuna will be hopeful that he is the man that can turn the clubs season around and secure a second season in La Liga for the Basque side. Caparrós will be without Javier Flaño and Didier Digard on Saturday with the duo ruled out due to injury. The rest of his squad are available though and he will be looking to put a team out that can spring a surprise against a somewhat out of sorts Barcelona.
Barcelona come into this game on a seven match unbeaten run but unfortunately for Luis Enrique’s men that run has included four draws, three of which came in La Liga. Those draws have saw Barça fall six points behind Real Madrid at the top of La Liga. The top two met last weekend at Camp Nou in a game that finished 1-1. At first that draw felt like a defeat for many Barcelona fans as the Blaugrana missed some good chances to go 2-0 up before Sergio Ramos’ late equaliser. As disappointing as that draw was there are still reasons for Barcelona fans to be hopeful for the season ahead. Andrés Iniesta made his return from injury last weekend and he was outstanding in the 30 minutes he was on the field. Iniesta is one of the most important players in this Barcelona team as seemingly nobody else is capable of linking up the midfield and attack and in his half hour run out last Saturday it was clear that he is the ingredient that has been missing in recent weeks for Luis Enrique’s team.
Barcelona will be without Neymar and Jeremy Mathieu for the trip to the Estadio El Sadar with both players ruled out by injury, although even if fit, Neymar would have missed out as he is also suspended. With no midweek game to worry about it seems likely that Luis Enrique will field as close to a full team as possible. Without Neymar, Arda Turan will line up on the left of the front three. The Turk appears to be more comfortable there than he does in midfield with his best performances this season coming when playing there earlier in the season while Neymar was at the Olympics and during the week when he scored a hat trick in the 4-0 drubbing of Borussia Mönchengladbach. The only other selection headache for the Barça manager will be deciding whether to start Sergio Busquets or not. The defensive midfielder is one booking away from missing next week's derby with Espanyol and the manager may decide the trip to Pamplona is a game he can afford to miss.
Barcelona will be clear favourites to win on Saturday afternoon but with the way this season has gone nothing should be taken for granted. However, Iniesta's return and subsequent performances in the last two games has handed Barça fans a new sense of optimism that hasn't been there in recent weeks and with Real Madrid six points clear Barça need wins to put the pressure on and it would be a huge upset if they don't get their first La Liga win in three games on Saturday afternoon.
Osasuna - Nauzet; Tano, Miguel Flaño, Márquez, Clerc; De Las Cuevas, Oier, Causic, Berenguer; Sergio León, Oriol Riera
Barcelona - Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Arda
Head to Head
Barcelona have played Osasuna 82 times. Barça have won 48 of those meetings with Osasuna winning 17 times. The other 17 meetings ended in a draw. Barça have scored 181 goals and conceded 70 in games against Osasuna keeping 42 clean sheets in the process.
Saturdays game will be refereed by Martinéz Munuera. In his last five games in charge of Barcelona, Barça have won three, drew one and lost one. He booked 11 Barcelona players in those five games. This referee has taken charge of Osasuna games on three occasions. In those three games Osasuna have won two, drew one and their players received a total of four yellow cards.
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WRITTEN BY: Gerry Johnston
Gerry Johnston is a 31 year old Civil Servant from County Antrim, Ireland. Gerry has been writing about football for various websites since Euro 2012 and he has been a Barcelona fan since the mid 90s.