Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Málaga

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Málaga

The blaugranes face their first league game of the season at Camp Nou against the Andalusians in a game which kicks off at 8.30pm CET

After a wait of 98 days since the last league encounter at Camp Nou, the league is back with Málaga the first visitors of the 2015/2016 season. Luis Enrique's side got off to an excellent start to the league campaign last weekend with a 1-0 win against Athletic Club Bilbao, Luis Suárez's goal giving them all three points. Before the game against Málaga, which will be the first since the pitch was recently relaid, captain Andrés Iniesta will present the European Super Cup to the crowd following their victory in the competition earlier this month in Tbilisi. At the same time Leo Messi will also show off the UEFA Best Player in Europe accolade collected on Thursday at the gala for the draw for the Champions League group stage.

Team news

Barça trained for the final time on Friday ahead of the visit of Málaga this weekend. The good news for Luis Enrique is that Sergio Busquets has shaken off the ankle knock that caused him to be substituted in the second half of the win in San Mamés and has been included in the squad. Another that's back on the list is that of Neymar. The Brazilian returned to training this week after completing his recovery from a bout of the mumps and features for the first time since the Joan Gamper Trophy game against AS Roma earlier this month. However, Gerard Piqué is serving a suspension and the Brazilian trio of Douglas, Adriano and Dani Alves all miss out due to injury.

Mathieu, who sat out the trip to Bilbao through suspension, is also back in the following squad of eighteen: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Mathieu, Bartra, Mascherano, Vermaelen, Jordi Alba, Sergio, Rakitic, Iniesta, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto, Gumbau, Munir, Sandro, Neymar Jr, Suárez and Messi.

For Málaga veteran central defender Weligton returns to the 18 man squad named by coach Javi Gracia after missing the 0-0 draw last weekend with Sevilla due to suspension. Midfielder Recio is also back after he too missed the Andalusian derby on the opening day of the season due to a ban. There is no place in the squad for new signings Espinho and Roque Santa Cruz, back for his second spell with Málaga on loan from Mexican club Azul.

Coaches' viewpoint

Barça boss Luis Enrique spoke to the press on Friday ahead of the first league game of the campaign at Camp Nou. The blaugrana coach reminded everyone that Saturday's visitors were unbeaten in two matches versus his side last season: "I'm happy it's the first match at the Camp Nou so we can see if we're able to overcome the difficulties we had [versus Málaga] last season ... It's a challenge for us."
Málaga boss Javi Gracia was cautious but at the same time quietly optimistic ahead of his side's trip to Barcelona: "We have to go to Camp Nou and as we see every year, it's a difficult place to pick up points, but that is our hope."

Form guide

Barça bounced back from the disappointment of losing out to Athletic Club Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup with a win on the opening weekend of the league season in San Mamés. It was the third successive match against the Basque side and it also meant that the blaugranes have now gone 15 games unbeaten in the league, the last side to take all three points against them were indeed Málaga at Camp Nou last season. Javi Gracia's side took the win against Barça last season thanks to a goal from Juanmi, now departed for the Premier League and Ronald Koeman's Southampton side. Málaga were held to a goalless draw by Unai Emery's Sevilla last weekend and have lost six of their last seven away matches in La Liga.


The 1-0 win for Málaga at Camp Nou in February was just their second ever in the league in 14 visits and their first since 1999. The Andalusians held Barça to a goalless draw at La Rosaleda earlier in the campaign and thus were the only side who Luis Enrique's team failed to defeat in the league last season. Nevertheless, Barça have still won nine of the last ten meetings in the league with Málaga at Camp Nou.


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