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FC Barcelona will look to build on their opening day 2-0 win over Betis at the Camp Nou to continue their perfect start to the 2017/18 La Liga campaign with a trip to Vitoria to face Aláves at 6.15pm CET on Saturday.
The last time Barça visited Mendizorrotza, they produced a dazzling display which saw them coast to a 6-0 win. A similar performance would be confidence-boosting for the blaugranas having missed out on the first trophy of the season, the Spanish Super Cup. However, the match is sure to be a tough one against a side that only lost four times on home soil last season.
Luis Suárez and Rafinha are both out as they battle to recover from a knee injuries, the former making much faster progress than originally expected.
Andre Gomes was added to the list of absentees when he was revealed to have gastroenteritis shortly before the trip to the Basque Country, Lucas Digne stepping in in to fill the space.
Therefore, the final squad of 18 is as follows: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Iniesta, Messi, Mascherano, Paulinho, Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal and Umtiti.
New Aláves coach, Luis Zubeldía’s injury worries are centred on defender Héctor Hernández who hasn’t been able to train due to a knee injury. The rest of his squad, including new signings Enzo Zidane from Real Madrid and Ghana midfielder Mubarak Wakaso, are in contention.
Ernesto Valverde was excited when discussing Barça’s new signingOusmane Dembéle by saying he hopes the player “will give us plenty to be happy about” before adding that he “is a quick technical player who can go deep. He can play on both wings.” The manager went on to talk about the challenge on Saturday: “It will be a tough match, Aláves are rebuilding. Also, Menidzorrotza is a difficult place to play.”
Deportivo Aláves’ coach Luis Zubeldía, spoke of how “playing at Mendizorrotza is special and even more so when it is against FC Barcelona ... We need to be efficient with and without the ball because I don’t expect we will get many chances.”
FC Barcelona’s start to the 2017/18 season started off with a difficult Spanish Super Cup double header in which they lost to Real Madrid. However, Ernesto Valverde’s spell as Barça coach in the league started off with an emotional 2-0 win against Betis three days on from the horrific Barcelona attacks. Sergi Roberto and a Tosca own goal sealed the points while Messi produced a dazzling display where he was only denied by the woodwork.
Aláves are looking to avoid back-to-back losses in the league after going down 1-0 to Leganés on the opening day. Gabriel Apelt Pires scored the only goal of the game in the 24th minute, but Alavés did miss a penalty.
The two sides saw a lot of each other during the 2016/17 season culminating in the Copa del Rey final. Barça won the competition for the 29th time following a 3-1 victory over the Basque side at the Vicente Calderón. Lionel Messi produced yet another masterclass as the blaugranas marked the end of Luis Enrique’s reign with another trophy.
In La Liga, it was a win apiece as Barça hammered Aláves 6-0 away with a breath-taking performance in which Suárez scored a brace and Messi got on the scoresheet as well. However, the Catalans surprisingly lost when the sides met at Camp Nou, Deyverson and Ibai Gomez scoring the goals for the visitors.
WORLDWIDE TV COVERAGE
If you are planning on watching the game, then don’t forget to give our global TV guide a read so you know when and where to watch it. If you aren’t able to watch live then don’t worry as you can listen to English commentary on Radio Barça, or follow our minute-by-minute updates on FC Barcelona’s official Twitter account throughout the game.
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