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Four games into the fledgling 2017/18 La Liga campaign, the view from above is breathtaking. From its lofty perch in the league pecking order, Barça—which welcomes Eibar to Camp Nou on Tuesday night—has nothing above it but open sky, while a flock of teams clutch for a seat on the branches below.
Heading into the Week 5 match against Eibar, Barça has clearly taken on the role of the raptor, and has put up some impressive numbers that place it squarely at the top of the food chain—4 victories, 0 draws, 0 losses. 11 goals for, 1 goal against. In the team’s latest triumph, it was a pair of second-half substitutes who came on to score the tying and winning goals, as Barça swooped in to snatch a come-from-behind victory at Getafe (Highlights, Match Report).
FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde announced the match day squad which sees defenders Aleix Vidal, Thomas Vermaelen, and Lucas Digne crack the list. Samuel Umtiti, however, as well as Paco Álcacer, André Gomes, and Arda Turan, even though the Turkish midfielder is fit again, have been left out. The injured Rafinha and, of course, Dembélé, are also out.
The squad in full is as follows:
Eibar are coming to Barcelona with 19 players. They have various absentees, though, including Yoel, Fran Rico, Pedro León, Iván Alejo, and Iván Ramis.
What the coaches are saying
Valverde wants his team to complete a perfect sweep of three wins in seven days: “We had nine points to play for this week, we have six so far and three more to go for tomorrow. We need to try and tune out the noise around us and focus on winning tomorrow."
On who will replace the injured Dembélé: "There are several players on the team that can play that position. Deulofeu, Aleix Vidal, Denis Suárez, André Gomes. Yes we will look for alternatives to put together a starting 11."
José Luis Mendilibar assured his team needs to play very well at Camp Nou in order to get a positive result: “If you have any doubts, you will get nothing. We need to have some luck, take our chances, and hope they don’t manage to convert theirs.”
Barça (4-0-0): W-W-W-W
Eibar (2-0-2): W-L-L-W
Stats and such
Barça…has won all six of its league clashes with Eibar, outscoring them 20–6 in the process…In fact, Barça’s 20 goals against Eibar are the most of any First Division team…Barça is riding an 11-game league winning streak, the team’s best since a 12-game streak in March of 2016, which was also the longest such streak of the Luis Enrique era…Messi has scored eight La Liga goals against Eibar, more than any other player…In fact, Messi has scored at least once in all five of the games he’s played against Eibar in La Liga…Barça’s defense has been sublime this season, yielding just one goal through four games…Interestingly, the last three goals Barça has given up in La Liga have all been scored by Japanese players…Gaku Shibasaki scored for Getafe on Saturday and Takashi Inui scored twice for Eibar in last season’s league finale…Luis Suárez has scored six goals in the five league games he’s played against Eibar, including his first La Liga hat-trick, which came on October 25th, 2015 at Camp Nou…Piqué is one game away from making his 250th La Liga appearance with Barça, the last 83 of which have been as a starter.
Eibar…is 1-1-4 in its last six road games in La Liga, the lone victory coming in a 1–0 win at Málaga in Week 1 this season…Mendilibar has lost all seven of his visits to Camp Nou as a coach and has not only never come away with a point, his teams have also surrendered 32 goals (4.5 per game).
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