PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Barça are going into one of the most decisive periods of the season. Their Champions League future is at stake against Milan, in La Liga they have huge matches against Sevilla and Real Madrid and there is also the Copa del Rey semi final. But before all that, they have a league trip to Granada and the team insists that that is what matters to them most for the moment.

They might be twelve points ahead of Atlético Madrid, but they haven’t won away for two matches, the first time that has happened all season. And as recent meetings have suggested, Granada are a team Barça find it hard to beat.

No Xavi or Villa

There are important absentees at the start of such a crucial period. Xavi is still not fully fit, and Villa is also out with renal colic. Dos Santos and Abidal are also unavailable.

But there are no such problems with Leo Messi, who is searching for his 300th goal in a Barça shirt. And he is also looking to extend his record run of scoring in 13 consecutive league games. But Granada is one of just three teams that he has failed to score against this season.

Change of direction at Granada

The Andalusian side is suddenly very different to the one of a month ago. During the winter transfer window they changed manager and also totally revamped their squad. One of these is former Barça man Nolito, signed from Benfica.

In his first two games in charge at Granada, manager Lucas Alcaraz has turned things around with two impressive wins at home to Real Madrid (1-0) and at Riazor (0-3). Thanks to that, they are now six points ahead of the relegation zone and can go into this Barça match with some of the immediate pressure removed.