PREVIEW | Granada CF v FC Barcelona

PREVIEW | Granada CF v FC Barcelona

Sunday at 9pm CEST brings a visit to an opponents that has given the Catalans plenty of problems in recent meetings

After dropping two points against Mallorca and then scraping a couple of 1-0 wins in close-fought encounters with Sevilla in La Liga and Porto in the Champions League, things have slowed down a bit at FC Barcelona in the last fortnight. Injuries may be partly to blame for that, but coach Xavi Hernández sees absolutely no cause for alarm. After all, the team is still unbeaten in all competitions this season and the fact they are not top of the Liga table is purely academic at this early stage of the season.

The next challenge is an interesting one. With just one win (curiously against Mallorca one of just two teams to have taken points off Barça this season), Granada have hardly set La Liga slight since winning promotion back into the elite at the first time of asking under Paco López.

But let the last three encounters with the Andalusians be a warning that los nazaries are never a team to be underestimated. They ended in two 1-1 draws and a first ever victory for Granada at Spotify Camp Nou. And before that, a dramatic Copa del Rey encounter only saw Barça finally emerge victorious 5-3 after extra time.

How it stands

Barça moved up to second last week after picking up three points against Sevilla while their two most direct rivals, Girona and Real Madrid, played each other, with the latter winning 3-0 at Montilivi to replace the Catalans in first place.

Those two clubs played again on Saturday and both won, meaning Barça are hopefully only temporarily down to third. Girona defeated ten-man Cadiz 1-0, and immediately after, Real Madrid saw off Osasuna 4-0 to ensure that regardless of what Barça achieve in Granada, the all-whites will stay top for at least one more week.

Team news

FC Barcelona are missing four players for this one, and they are four of the most important members of the squad. Frenkie de Jong and Pedri are key components of the Barça midfield, while up front, with Raphinha already injured against Sevilla, the problems have been exasperated by top scorer Robert Lewandowski spraining his ankle against Porto.

The absence of firepower up front has meant first-ever call-ups for two players. 21-year-old Pau Víctor is playing for Barça Atlètic on loan from Girona, while Marc Guiu is an U17 international for Spain playing in Barça's youth team. Youngsters Lamine Yamal, Astralaga and Fermín are also included, although that's nothing unusual this season.

Granada are not without troubles of their own. Captain Víctor Díaz is out with a knee injury and first-choice keeper Raúl Fernández has just undergone an operation of a fractured finger.

Did you know?

Four members of the Granada first team squad, Ricard Sánchez, Ignasi Miquel, Alberto Perea and Gerard Gumbau all spent at least part of their development years at Barça's famous La Masia.

Granada manager Paco López is the same man who managed Levante to a 5-4 victory over Barça in 2019 that put paid to the Catalans' hopes of completing a full Liga campaign undefeated.

Granada games have produced more goals (34) than those involving any other team in La Liga. In fact, although they are currently second from bottom in the table, they are the 7th highest scoring team in the competition.

Xavi says

In his pre-game press conference, most of the questions to Xavi Hernández revolved around injury issues and how they affect the way the team puts his ideas into practice. But all things considered, he still thinks "the team is playing well and our confidence has been boosted by two hard-fought wins."


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