Barcelona will look to maintain their slender advantage at the top of La Liga when they host bottom-of-the-table Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. Barcelona vs. Osasuna
Barcelona vs. Osasuna
Barca went top after beating bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-2 in the Clasico on Sunday. However, the Blaugrana’s lead is only by virtue of a superior head-to-head record against Los Blancos, who also have a game in hand.
By contrast, Osasuna are already preparing for a season in Spain’s second division. The club has been rooted to the bottom of La Liga for a while and remain nine points adrift of safety with five games to go.
Before a preview and a look at the team news, here are the schedule and viewing details:
Date: Wednesday, April 26
Time: 6:30 p.m. BST/1:30 p.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports 2. beIN Sports.
It’s likely to again be the Lionel Messi show for Barca, after the dynamic Argentinian tore Real apart at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. He scored twice, including the winner in stoppage time.
Messi should be tipped to be the main man again, especially since fellow attacker Neymar is still suspended. The Brazilian will serve the final game of a ban Barca were unable to have overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, per the team’s official website.
Former Valencia striker Paco Alcacer replaced Neymar in the Clasico but has generally struggled for goals since arriving at the Camp Nou in the summer. In fact, Alcacer has managed a return of just five goals in all competitions, per WhoScored.com.
There are also questions about the leaders’ options in midfield. Manager Luis Enrique trusted familiar trio Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic in the Spanish capital, but he may look to mix things up for a midweek fixture Barca will be expected to win handsomely.
It could mean more game time for oft-criticised Andre Gomes. Another ex-Valencia star, Gomes has found it hard adjusting to life at Barca, and been much-maligned for his performances.
However, Enrique has defended the player he signed last summer, per ESPN FC’s Samuel Marsden: “So I’m going to defend my player: it’s a team sport and I think it’s pathetic. I think it’s totally unfair, undeserved. Obviously we all need to improve, but to single out players is lamentable.”
Barcelona vs. Osasuna
If Osasuna have a chance at producing a miracle, they’ll need crafty striker Sergio Leon to expose a suspect Barcelona defence. The 28-year-old has impressed with his movement and technique, despite his club’s troubles this season.
Of course, it’s much more probable Barca’s strike force will grab the headlines, with Messi likely to again be the star of the show.