LaLiga Match Day 2: Deportivo Alaves vs FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona would be looking forward to maintaining their perfect start to the La Liga campaign when they travel to the Basque Country to take on Deportivo Alaves at the Estadio Mendizorrotza.
The Blaugranas are raring to go after clinching a dominant 2-0 victory over Real Betis in their La Liga opener on Sunday. On the other hand, Manu Garcia’s missed penalty proved to be too costly for Alaves as they crashed against Leganes and now face an uphill task of outdoing Barça to prevent two straight losses in the first two league games of the season.
Both teams have room for improvement heading into Week 2 of the campaign, but Barca are sure to be tested by a team that lost only four times on home soil last season.
Date: Saturday, August 26 // Sunday, August 27 in China, Japan, Australia.
Time: 12:15 ( ET ) // 17:15 ( BST ) // 16:15 ( GMT ) // 21:45 ( IST ).
Venue: Mendizorrotza Stadium, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
TV Info: Sky Sports Mix (UK) // beIN Sports 3 (U.S.) // beIN SPORTS CONNECT Arabia, beIN Sports Arabia ( Arab Countries ) // beIN LaLiga, beIN Sports Connect España, Movistar+ ( Barcelona ) // Sony Ten 2 ( INDIA ) // QQ Sports Live, PPTV Sport China ( China ) // beIN Sports ( Indonesia ) // Foxtel Now, beIN Sports Connect Australia, beIN Sports ( Australia ) // WOWOW, SportsNavi Live ( Japan )
Live Stream: Sky Go app (UK), beIN Sports Connect (U.S.), fuboTV (U.S.), Mobdro App, Sony LIV App, Jio TV App.
FC Barcelona: The latest leg of Barcelona’s evolution will see Valverde’s men attempt to break down an opponent that proved tough to beat on their own turf last term, even if a 6-0 win at the Mendizorrotza Stadium in February suggests otherwise.
Although Alcacer struggled to have a major impact against Betis, one attacking whiz who impressed as part of the new order was winger Gerard Deulofeu, who provided assists for both goals in that 2-0 victory.
Sergi Roberto also impressed in the game against Real Betis and showed the critics what he’s capable of while playing in his favoured position. Sergi Roberto had a totemic presence in the match against Betis weighed in with a superb goal to double Barcelona’s advantage just before the break. When provided with the space, the Spaniard was lethal and showed his intelligence with solid passing and movement to help seal three points for Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Another name who impressed in Barça’s opener was Nelson Semedo. To put his contribution last Sunday into perspective, Semedo was the only player on the Camp Nou pitch to have successfully completed all of his passes in the first half. A 94% pass accuracy across the entire 90 minutes was also the best of any player from both sides.
Though Lionel Messi struck the woodwork three times and generally looked like he’d never been away from the game during the summer, it was Semedo’s introduction to the wider Blaugrana public that had everyone talking. One couldn’t fail to be impressed. Confident in possession of the ball, willing to run all day long – he covered twice as much ground as Messi for example – and always available, there was very little for Ernesto Valverde and his technical team to reproach the player for.
Just 23 years of age, Semedo still has some growing to do in a footballing sense, but if he can become the right-back solution that Barca have been crying out for, he will be a very welcome addition indeed.
Deportivo Alaves: Were it not for a missed Manu Garcia penalty, Alaves might have come away from Leganes with a point and a more promising start to their campaign, but manager Luis Zubeldia is now at risk of going two losses for two.
The temptation might be to sit back against domineering opposition and throw men behind the ball, but against a Barcelona team in some disarray of late, Alaves’ best chance of a result may be to take the fight to their foes.
Alaves, who lost only 4 times last season, are surely going to give a tough fight to the Catalan giants.
FC Barcelona: Luis Suarez is training to gain match fitness but he is most likely to miss this tie against Alaves. However, Iniesta returned to training and maybe included in the starting line-up.
Meanwhile, Rafinha is yet to recover from the knee surgery he underwent in April, although Barcelona will be starting to eye a comeback date for the midfielder.
Deportivo Alaves: Defender Victor Laguardia is yet to return from a knee injury he suffered in April.
Deportivo Alaves: Pacheco; Alexis, Ely, Vigaray; Wakaso, Garcia, Ibai, Pedraza, Burgui; Santos, Sobrino
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Sergi Roberto; Deulofeu, Alcacer, Messi.