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The blaugranes face Eibar on Sunday at 6.15pm CET at Camp Nou with Luis Enrique’s side looking for their third consecutive victory in all competitions after recent wins over Rayo Vallecano in the league and BATE Borisov in the Champions League. The visitors, however, will not make it easy for them with José Luis Mendilibar’s team unbeaten on the road so far this season.
Barça trained for the final time on Saturday before the clash with the Basques. Coach Luis Enrique will still be without the injured Leo Messi, Rafinha, Andrés Iniesta and Sergi Roberto, the latter picking up a groin injury in the midweek victory over BATE Borisov in Belarus that will rule him out for around 7-10 days. Iniesta was unable to make a return to the squad as the man from La Mancha, despite having trained with the squad this week, is yet to fully recover from a hamstring injury picked up at the end of September in the game against Bayer Leverkusen at Camp Nou.
Eibar coach Mendilibar also has problems with injury, the latest setback coming in training this week when midfielder Adrián González picked up a hamstring problem that will keep him out for at least a month, forcing him out of the starting line up on Sunday against Barça for the first time this season. Defender Iván Ramis also suffered a hamstring injury last weekend in the 1-1 draw with Sevilla, he too will be out for around a month. Antonio Luna still has not fully recovered from his thigh problem and looks set to miss the trip to Camp Nou alongside long term injury victims Gayoso and Jaime.
Luis Enrique appeared before the press on Saturday ahead of the Eibar game and as ever was nothing less than respectful of the challenge posed by the visitors: “They are a dangerous side and very clear about they have to do” he said about an opponent that has got its campaign off to a very solid start indeed. “It’s the same kind of difficulty we expect from any side we play, but they’re in especially good form and haven’t lost away from home this season. It’s an important challenge for us. People are asking about clean sheets, but for me the most important thing is just to make sure we win the game.”
In his pre-game press conference on Friday, Eibar boss José Luis Mendilibar was pragmatic as ever in summing up his side’s chances of getting something out of the game: “At Camp Nou, even if they don’t play well, they always create chances. Perhaps it’s the most difficult ground to go to. I don’t think it will be a game to enjoy. We are going to have to sweat and run like madmen after the ball.”
After returning to action following the recent international break, Barça have put together back to back wins over Rayo at home in the league and away at BATE Borisov in Europe. Luis Enrique’s side have won four of their last five matches, the only reverse in that time being the defeat against Sevilla in the Sánchez Pizjuán. Neymar is in scintillating form for the blaugranes with five goals in his last two league games making him top scorer at the moment in the Spanish First Division with eight goals.
Visitors Eibar currently sit in seventh place in the First Division with 13 points from their first eight games of the campaign. José Luis Mendilibar’s team have lost just once this season, a 2-0 defeat at home to Diego Simeone’s Atlético the only blot on their record. The Basques are unbeaten on the road this season with two of their three wins so far in the campaign coming away from Ipurua, against Granada and most recently Las Palmas.
Barça have only ever met Eibar once before at Camp Nou in the league and that meeting came in October last year. The visitors held out for an hour before Xavi put the blaugranes ahead, Neymar and Messi then rounding off a 3-0 win for Luis Enrique’s side. In the return fixture in March, two goals from Messi gave Barça a 2-0 victory on their first ever visit to Ipurua.
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