PREVIEW | FC Barcelona v Granada CF

PREVIEW | FC Barcelona v Granada CF

A third win in a row would help keep up the pressure on frontrunners Real Madrid and Girona in second

After they lost 5-3 at home to Villarreal, anyone could have been forgiven for thinking that FC Barcelona's hopes of winning this season's Liga title had dwindled to nothing. But recent results have restored the faith that a spectacular comeback is still possible. Barça won their game in hand against Osasuna, and last weekend, while both Real Madrid and Girona dropped two points at home, Barça were comfortable 3-1 winners way to Getafe.

And something had to give at the top of the table this weekend too, as the top two teams played each other at the Santiago Bernabeu, resulting in Real Madrid winning 4-0 to go five points clear of Girona.

So Barça now have the chance to tidy things up even more at the top of the table as they take on Granada on Sunday night at the Estadi Olimpic (9pm CET). The Andalusians are second from bottom with just two wins all season, so on paper this should be a routine home win. But nothing can be taken for granted. After all, Granada are a team that Barça have failed to beat in the last four meetings.

In the game earlier this season at Los Carmenes, Granada led 2-0 after half an hour, both goals scored by Bryan Zaragoza, who has since left for Bayern Munich. Lamine Yamal restored hope with a goal just before half-time and then substitute Sergi Roberto made it 2-2 with a brilliant goal just five minutes from time. In fact, Barça looked to have completed yet another amazing comeback when Ferran Torres scored right at the end, but a rather controversial offside decision ruled out the potential winner.

Two seasons ago, despite being relegated, Granada managed 1-1 draws in both of their games with Barça, and the season before that a side that had never so much as drawn at Camp Nou claimed a shock 2-1 win in the Catalan capital, a result that practically ended all hope of a blaugrana league title.

In fact, Barça have not beaten Granada in the last five attempts over 90 minutes, as a dramatic Copa del Rey quarter final in 2021 also ended all square, with the Catalans eventually winning 5-3 after extra time.

TV Guide

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Team news

Barça have achieved back-to-back wins in La Liga despite an alarming number of injuries, but there was wonderful news this week with the announcement that both goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen and striker Raphinha have been named in the squad for Sunday's game after recovering from their respective injuries. 

İlkay Gündoğan has been having some muscle trouble, but is also fine to play, but Gavi, Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso, João Félix and Ferran Torres all remain injured.

And there's the added complication that despite Barça appealing against the extreme harshness of the red card shown to Vitor Roque last weekend, the protest was turned down and the Brazilian will have to watch this one from the stands.

Granada, who recently set a Liga record by by signing no fewer than ten new players in the winter transfer window, have plenty of problems of their own to deal with. Raúl Fernández, Jesús Vallejo and now Lucas Boyé are all out injured, while both Gonzalo Villar and Kamil Piatkowski are suspended.

Xavi says

Speaking the day before the game, the FC Barcelona coach said that Granada are  "a difficult team who need points" and that "they have improved defensively and are more aggressive" under new coach Medina.

He also went on to talk about his players, highlighting their "commitment to the team", as is the case with Oriol Romeu who wants to play despite not being 100% fit, before going on to sing the young players' praises.

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