PREVIEW: Barça v Osasuna

PREVIEW: Barça v Osasuna

At 9.00pm CEST on Thursday, Barça need all three points against a Navarran side that has enjoyed a strong return to top flight football

FC Barcelona go into their penultimate game of the 2019/20 Liga season knowing that their hopes of winning the title are fading fast. All they can do now is win their remaining games and hope for a somewhat unlikely miracle to happen elsewhere.

The situation

With two games each left to play, Real Madrid are four points clear at the top of the table. But it is effectively a five-point lead because if the two rivals end the season level on points, Madrid will win because they have the better head-to-head record. What that means is:

  • Barça MUST win their last two matches to have any hope of winning the title.
  • But they also need to Real Madrid to lose one of their remaining matches, and do no better than draw in the other.
  • Real Madrid will be champions if they win either of their remaining matches.

Miracles do happen, but this one is a very big ask indeed. Today’s fixtures and the final round of matches on Sunday are all being played at the same time (9.00pm CEST). Madrid are at home to Villarreal today and visit Leganés at the weekend. Fingers crossed. You never know…

Team news

Barça are without the French trio of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé and Samuel Umtiti, all of whom are injured, for this one. But there was also some good news this week, with both Arthur Melo and Frenkie De Jong back after receiving medical clearance, while Ansu Fati returns from a one-match suspension.

As usual Quique Setién has included a number of Barça B players in the squad announced on Wednesday: Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo and young goalie Arnau Tenas.

The opposition

From Pamplona in Navarra, Osasuna have been a more or less regular fixture La Liga for the last four decades, having bounced back up to the top flight as Second Division champions last season.

They have already done more than enough to ensure they will still be here next season, and they are currently enjoying their best spell so far, with four wins and a draw from their last six games, including three points at Alavés and Eibar and a 2-1 defeat of Celta in their most recent outing.

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The squad includes strikers Marc Cardona and José Arnaiz, as well as goalkeeper Rubén Martínez, who all spent time at Barça B.

Osasuna’s top scorer in La Liga this season is Chimy Ávila with eleven goals. With three goals in his last three games, Enric Gallego has found some form in front of goal too.

Head to head

Barça have only lost once to Osasuna in the last decade, and some of the wins have been simply outstanding, especially at Camp Nou, where they won 7-1 last season, and 7-0 in the last home game before that – while in 2011 the Catalans won 8-0. That’s six wins in row in the stadium, following a 1-0 win for Osasuna in a 2009 fixture that mattered for very little as Barça had already clinched the title.

Leo Messi has scored 21 goals against Osasuna, including seven in the last three meetings.

In the game at El Sadar earlier this season, Roberto Torres put Osasuna into a quick lead, but Ansu Fati and Arthur turned things round for the blaugrana before Torres found the net for the second time and the game ended 2-2.

Quique’s views

La Liga: “We are relying a team losing that has won every game since lockdown. We drew three games and that’s the difference. But anything can happen, so we’ll keep battling to the end.”

De Jong: "He has trained with the team and his problems are almost forgotten. He may start tomorrow or he may be on the bench, but he is fit to play.”

Arthur Melo: "He’s back training and in the squad. He’ll play only if absolutely necessary.”

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