preview | 2017-01-02
Lions, Submarines and Gunners - What's in store for Barça in January 2017?
Previewing the upcoming matches Lucho's men will face in the first month of the year
And it’s January again. It’s that time of New Year's propositions, holidays overweight, and Premier League saturation. Luckily, La Liga and Barça will be back in action to divert us from our broken promises and lost gym memberships to kick off a very intense second half of the season. So whether you started off your year Anoeta-esquely -Hello, Jordi Alba- or you just replicate Giroud’s scorpion back heel extravaganza in the playground with your buddies, we can always count on Barça bringing on the fun. Let’s recap the January matches scheduled for the Blaugranas.
Spanish Cup Round of 16 First Leg - Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona
05/01/2017 - 21:15 CET - Stadium San Mamés
What’s more exciting than Luis Enrique facing the one that might become his replacement, Valverde? Sure, we could have gotten a much easier opponent than The Lions at this stage of the tournament but Luis Enrique is no bald-headed, charming, stylish coach whose smile can light up an entire press conference room. The fact is that you almost always have to face the best to clinch a title and the new San Mamés will be the perfect venue for thrilling football in the first match of 2017. Securing a win with a clean sheet would be dreamt scenario so let’s just hope Neymar’s New Year resolution is to stop those obnoxious dribbles attempts.
Final scoreboard: Athletic Club 2-1 FC Barcelona.
La Liga Round 17 - Villarreal CF vs FC Barcelona
08/01/2017 - 20:45 CET - Stadium El Madrigal
There’s a saying in my country that goes something along the lines of “It’s time to put your shoes on because the hoedown is on!”. The hard truth it’s that Barça is playing catch-up in La Liga and can not afford to drop any more points until the magic potion runs out at the other side of the table. Therefore, the mentality from the get-go must be to put their football boots on and win, win, win. The Yellow Submarine will be a tough opponent of this purpose for sure since Escribá’s ranks are currently sitting fourth on the league table and displaying a solid game plan.
Final scoreboard: Villarreal CF 1-1 FC Barcelona.
Spanish Cup Round of 16 Second Leg - FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club
11/01/2017 - 21:15 CET - Stadium Camp Nou
There’s no rest for the Blaugrana side in the first part of the month as the Catalans will take on the Basques for the second time in six days. The first match of 2017 at the Camp Nou could be the perfect reenactment of the Spanish Cup 2015 final where Lionel Messi scored the best goal of his career but we must wait and see how the team responds physically in these early stages of the calendar with such a demanding schedule.
Final scoreboard: FC Barcelona 3-1 Athletic Club.
La Liga Round 18 - FC Barcelona vs UD Las Palmas
14/01/2017 - 16:15 CET - Stadium Camp Nou
The fourth official match in the first fortnight of January will see the Culés facing at home Quique Setién’s men. After three grueling matches, logic dictates Luis Enrique will deploy his squad rotations skills much for the delight of part of the fanbase and causing exasperated sighs on the other half. This should be a painless win against the 10th placed in La Liga but being a Barça fan is like those dreaded January workout routines: it’s no pain-free.
Final scoreboard: FC Barcelona 5-0 UD Las Palmas.
Spanish Cup Round of 8 First Leg - Real Sociedad vs. FC Barcelona
19/01/2017 - 21:15 CET - Stadium Anoeta
Barcelona return to one the toughest fields for them in recent history since they have not been able to win there since the 2006/07 season (Real Sociedad were relegated to the Second Division between 2007 and 2010). The "Anoeta Curse" includes five defeats and three draws in all the competitions and has frustrated the Culés over and over again because of Barça's shortcomings and the rival own merits. Could this be the match in which "the curse" is broken?
Final scoreboard: Real Sociedad 0-1 FC Barcelona.
La Liga Round 19 - SD Eibar vs FC Barcelona
22/01/2017 - 20:45 CET - Stadium Ipurúa
It’s always a pleasure to visit the most picturesque stadium of the Spanish first division, cute as a button, with the surrounding buildings onlookers watching the match while hanging the Sunday laundries on their balconies. But make no mistakes, Mendilibar’s Gunners will get the bit between their teeth in order to conquer the three points and spoil the trip to their Catalans opponents. The Basque side is currently sitting eighth at the table and as with any given rival in La Liga, culés can’t take anything for granted.
Final scoreboard: SD Eibar 0-4 FC Barcelona.
Spanish Cup Round of 8 Second Leg - FC Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad
26/01/2017 - 21:15 CET - Stadium Camp Nou
The second leg of the tie will be the seventh match in a grueling month for the Barça squad where Luis Enrique's rotation are going to play a key role in the team's performances. If the outcome in the first leg is satisfying, then this game should be a formality. But that's a big "if" since the Basque side has proved to be a hard nut to crack and are full of confidence knowing where their strong points lie.
Final scoreboard: FC Barcelona 5-2 Real Sociedad.
La Liga Round 20 - Real Betis vs FC Barcelona
29/01/2017 - 12:00 CET - Stadium Benito Villamarín
Barça close off an intense month in Andalusian lands facing a somewhat crestfallen Real Betis. The second round of La Liga starts with the fresh memories of the 6-2 rout against the Verdiblancos in the first matchday of the league when everybody was lively, Iniesta had not gotten injured and André Gomes was a €55 million question mark. The Benito Villamarín will surely be packed, noisy and feisty but Messi and Co. should be able to grab the win.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
WRITTEN BY: Jaime Ibarra
Jaime is a chemical engineer from Venezuela who is passionate about football and Barça. He loves the club’s history and he has been an unconditional fan since Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” amazed the world with the Blaugrana colors.