Elche, Athletic Bilbao and APOEL all came to the Camp Nou and went home empty handed, both in terms of points and goals. Now on Saturday at 6.00 PM CET, in their third game in seven days, FC Barcelona will be looking to add Granada to their lsit of victims. Not that will be easy. The 1-0 defeat at Los Cármenes last April is still fresh in the minds of the players that were around last season, as well as the difficulties to beat the Andalusians 2-0 at the Camp Nou early in the 2012/13 season.
Granada got their season off to a fine start with two wins and two draws, and although last week’s 1-0 defeat at home to Levante was the first major glitch, yhey are still well-placed at eighth in the table.
Luis Enrique made it clear that Barça will need to work hard for the win. “Granada are a strong team. They’re powerful at set pieces and move the ball into attack well. They’ll cause us a lot of difficulties.” And following the setback of the 0-0 draw at Malaga, he admitted that there are still things to be improved in this team.
As he has stated that he’ll be doing for every league match this season, the manager did not name his squad until Saturday morning. With respect to the side that faced Malaga midweek, Piqué, Douglas and Jordi Alba have all been side-lined. Vermaelen, despite being declared fully recovered from his hamstring injury this week, also misses out, as do the injured Rafinha and Masip.
With Dani Alves and Jérémy Mathieu both back in the eighteen, the full squad is therefore as follows: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Montoya, Rakitic, Busquets, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Messi, Neymar, Mascherano, Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Alves and Mathieu, plus Sandro and Munir of Barça B.
Granada, meanwhile, are missing former FCB man Rochina and Juan Carlos, while the game also marks the return to the Camp Nou of Oier Olazábal, who was a goalkeeper at FC Barcelona from 2007 to 2014.