PREVIEW: CA Osasuna v FC Barcelona

PREVIEW: CA Osasuna v FC Barcelona

Pamplona is the venue as the Catalans seek to put a difficult week behind them

With defeat at home to Betis in La Liga, followed by a loss in Germany that spelled elimination from the Champions League, FC Barcelona desperately need a change of momentum, and on Sunday at 4.15pm CET they’ll be trying to do just that with a trip to Pamplona, home of Osasuna.

It’s never an easy ground to get a result at, but although the Navarrans got off to a fine start in La Liga, their form has dropped of late and they haven’t won in seven games. They’ve only won once at their El Sadar stadium all season, so at least on paper the game presents an excellent opportunity to get back some of the lost morale.

Team news

However, once again Barça have will be going into a game with severely depleted resources. Making do without Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite, Pedri, Sergio Agüero and Sergi Roberto has been bad enough in recent games. But on Sunday Xavi Hernández will also be missing the third highest goalscorer in La Liga, Memphis Depay, and the player who is fifth for assists, Jordi Alba.

It means Xavi has once again drawn on resources from the reserves, including striker Ferran Jutglà, who has been excelling with Barça B this season and is in line to become yet another young debutant for the first team this season.

How it stands

Barça go into the game 16 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, and six points below Atlético Madrid, who currently hold the all-important fourth place for Champions League berths. The two Madrid clubs will be meeting in the derby later in the day at 9.00pm CET.

After Valencia beat Elche on Saturday, Barça have dropped to eighth, but would move back above them with a win. On the other hand, Osasuna go into the game two points behind Barça, and would move above the Catalans should they win this game.

Did you know?

Osasuna won six games in a row at home to Barça between 1961 and 1984, but in recent years the fixture has been more blaugrana in flavour. Barça have a 5-5-2 record in their last 12 trips to Pamplona.

Eleven years ago, Barça played a freakish game at El Sadar. Due to an air traffic control strike, there was some dispute as to whether the game could be suspended or not, and in the end Pep Guardiola and his team had to make a late dash to the ground, by train to Zaragoza and then by coach to Navarra. They ended up arriving two minutes late, but the game got played. And what’s more, Barça won it 3-0 with two goals from Leo Messi and one from Pedro.

Osasuna’s Roberto Torres has scored four goals against Barça over the years, more than he has scored against any other team. Barça is also the only side he has ever scored against twice in the same game.

As a player, Xavi Hernández only ever lost one game against Osasuna.

Ansu Fati scored his first goal for Barça at El Sadar, the one that made him Barça’s youngest ever goalscorer in La Liga, and the third youngest overall. He was just 16 years and 304 days old and scored just five minutes after coming on as a substitute.


Xavi says

“We’ll have to work hard, recover morale and also win. Winning is the most important thing. We need to start winning tomorrow and view the game like a final in awareness that we can’t afford to drop any more points.”

“We have to go out and compete. There’s still a long way to go. This is not the best of moments in this club’s history, that’s obvious, but we need to play with joy, encourage each other and get our form back and turn that into points. We have no choice other than hard work.”

“We have the players to do better. But they need to believe that, and that’s my job. I’m encouraging them to do things, to be daring, to be brave.”

“We have to aim for excellence. Some people might be happy just to get a pass, but we need to aim for excellence. We need to be more daring, we need to aim more for excellence, because if we don’t, then that’s not the Barça way.”


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