LNTUP

Granada vs Barcelona: Match Preview

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FC Barcelona will resume their campaign of La Liga after the international break against bottom spotted Granada. Luis Enrique’s side are currently two points behind Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and Los Blancos also have a game in hand.

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As always, the first step for Enrique is to focus on the immediate task at hand, and despite Granada’s poor form, he knows his side will be in for a difficult test. Not only are the Blaugrana traditionally poor after the international break, but they will be without two of their most influential players, as Messi misses out through suspension while Gerard Pique has been left out of the squad.

The focus therefore will be on whether Luis Suarez can continue his run of good form against Granada, and whether Neymar will continue to dazzle and amaze, particularly in Messi’s absence. Likewise, will Luis Enrique continue to experiment with the 3-4-3, or will the absence of Pique see him revert back to a more orthodox tactical approach?

Venue: Los Carmenes, Andalusia, Spain

Date: Sunday, April 2

Kick Off: 19:45 UK, 20:45 CET, 00:15 IST(3rd April)

TV Channels: Sky Sports 1, beIN Sports, Sony Six

TEAM NEWS

BARCELONA

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As referenced above, Lionel Messi misses out through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Valencia. Gerard Pique is being rested, while Arda Turan and Jeremy Mathieu both continue to miss out through injury alongside long-term absentees, Jordi Masip and Aleix Vidal. As a result, Carles Alena has been called up to the squad from the B team and could therefore feature off the bench.

With a difficult match to come in midweek against Sevilla, Enrique could opt to rotate his squad, making full use of some of the fringe players. I suspect therefore that he will return to a 4-3-3, with Lucas Digne, Mascherano, Samuel Umtiti and Sergi Roberto starting in defense. In midfield, Busquets will anchor the side, but I suspect that our club captain, Andres Iniesta, will be afforded a rest. In his place, Denis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic are likely to start, particularly as the Croatian returned early from his duties with his national team.

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The absence of Messi and Arda Turan will likely result in a start on the right-wing for Rafinha Alcantara, although it would be interesting to see if Paco Alcacer is granted a rare start.

GRANADA

The good news for head coach, Lucas Alvarez, is that Colombian striker Adrian Ramos has been cleared to return to action and could therefore feature in tomorrow’s match.

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Ramos has a couple of goals to his name since joining in the winter transfer window, and he could be a huge boost, particularly as Moroccan international, Mehdi Carcela is set to miss out after returning from international duty with a muscle injury.

LAST MEETING

FC Barcelona 1-0 Granada CF – 29th October 2016 – La Liga
A solitary goal from Rafinha was enough to separate the two sides, as Granada frustrated the hosts for long periods, even if their effort ultimately wasn’t enough to secure a share of the spoils.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Roberto, Mascherano, Umtiti, Digne; Busquets, Rakitic, Denis; Rafinha, Suarez, Neymar

Granada (5-4-1): Ochoa; Foulquier, Saunier, Ingason, Silva, Litri; Boga, Agbo, Wakaso, Andreas; Ramos.

Granada vs Barcelona

 

Key Facts:

  • Granada have won three of their last four La Liga games at Los Carmenes, but they lost the last one against Atletico in a 1-0 defeat.
  • If Barcelona score a goal in this game, they will have netted in 18 La Liga games away in a row, their best run since September 2013 (32).
  • Neymar, on 99 goals for Barca, can become the third Brazilian player to score 100 for the Catalan club in all competitions (Rivaldo on 100 and Evaristo on 105 are the other two).
  • Luis Enrique (wth six wins and a draw) has never lost against Granada as a coach in La Liga.
  • Luis Suarez has scored four goals in his four meetings with Granada in La Liga. All four came in his two games at Los Carmenes.