Barcelona will hope to return to the summit of La Liga when they take on Osasuna at El Sadar in the final league game before the World Cup break.
The 2022/23 La Liga season continues this week with Matchday 14, the final round of fixtures before the break for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Barcelona will be in action on Tuesday night, with Osasuna hosting them at El Sadar.
Osasuna blew hot and cold in the first month of the 2022/23 La Liga season. But a four-game unbeaten run has lifted Jagoba Arrasate’s men to fifth on the table, with third-placed Atletico Madrid only a point ahead. But the hosts face a daunting task against Barcelona this week.
Speaking of Barcelona, the Catalan giants have been top-notch in La Liga for the most part. The only blemishes have been the opening-day draw with Rayo Vallecano and the defeat to Real Madrid in El Clasico. Otherwise, Xavi Hernandez’s men have been more consistent than any other team, except Los Blancos.
The reverse fixture last season saw Osasuna twice come from a goal down to hold Barcelona to a 2-2 draw. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
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📝 CONVOCATORIA | #Osasuna cita a veintidós jugadores para medirse al @FCBarcelona.#OsasunaBarça
▶️ https://t.co/Gm942hKL1g pic.twitter.com/BgqOQRwmqO
— C. A. OSASUNA (@Osasuna) November 7, 2022
Jagoba Arrasate does not have any pressing injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Barcelona. On Tuesday, the Osasuna manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players.
On-loan Barcelona attacker Ez Abde remains on the sidelines due to a thigh injury. Kike Saverio is also unavailable due to a tendon issue. Otherwise, Arrasate has a full-strength squad at his disposal for the midweek outing.
Aitor Fernandez should take his spot between the sticks, with Osasuna set to line up in a 4-3-3 formation against Barcelona. Unai Garcia and David Garcia should form the central defensive partnership, with Ruben Pena and Manu Sanchez being the full-backs.
Lucas Torro will be responsible for keeping things tight in the middle of the parks and negating the Barcelona midfielders. Aimar Oroz and Moi Gomez will provide defensive support to Torro while bringing the forward thrust from the middle of the park.
Chimy Avila has been flourishing as a right-winger lately, but he will take up central positions to put the Barcelona centre-backs under pressure. Ante Budimir will spearhead the Osasuna attack, with Kike Barja completing the hosts’ offensive unit.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Fernandez; Pena, Unai Garcia, David Garcia, Sanchez; Oroz, Torro, Gomez; Avila, Budimir, Barja
Xavi Hernandez has seen his squad’s fitness issues reduce this midweek ahead of the trip to El Sadar. The Barcelona manager will be without five first-team players on Tuesday, while Gerard Pique had his Camp Nou swansong against Almeria.
Sergi Roberto (shoulder), Jules Kounde (hamstring), Ronald Araujo (hip), Franck Kessie (hamstring), and Memphis Depay (hamstring) remain on the sidelines. But Andreas Christensen and Eric Garcia should be fit enough to feature, with Xavi including them in the travelling squad.
🚨 The squad for #OsasunaBarça! pic.twitter.com/B5g6L9mer2
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 7, 2022
Marc-Andre ter Stegen picks himself between the sticks, with Barcelona lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of him. Christensen and Garcia should form the central defensive unit, with Hector Bellerin and Jordi Alba likely being the two full-backs.
Gavi will hope to return to the starting eleven this week, with Sergio Busquets likely making way for him. The teenage prodigy should join Frenkie de Jong and Pedri in the midfield unit, with Busquets being an option on the bench.
Ferran Torres has been solid in most of the recent games. But Ansu Fati should replace the Spanish international on the left flank. Ousmane Dembele is an automatic pick on the right wing, with Robert Lewandowski spearheading the Barcelona attack against Osasuna.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Bellerin, Christensen, Eric Garcia, Alba; Gavi, de Jong, Pedri; Dembele, Lewandowski, Fati
- Osasuna have won just one of their last 12 matches against Barcelona in La Liga (D3 L8), that win coming away from home, 2-1 in July 2020. The Catalan giants have avoided defeat in their last six visits to Osasuna in La Liga (W3 D3), alternating between a win and a draw in those six away games – they drew the last one, 2-2, in December 2021.
- Osasuna have five wins from their first seven home games in La Liga in 2022/23 (L2), their highest home tally at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 2005/06 (W7).
- Barcelona have taken 34 points after their first 13 games in La Liga 2022/23 (W11 D1 L1), equalling their joint-fourth highest tally at this stage of a top-flight campaign (34 points in 2010/11). They have only won more points at this stage in 2012/13 (37), 2013/14 (37) and 2017/18 (35).
- Barcelona have conceded just four goals after their first 13 games in La Liga 2022/23, equalling the lowest tally by a team at this stage of a season in top-flight history (four goals conceded by Atletico Madrid in 1995/96).
- Robert Lewandowski has been involved in the most shots of any player in La Liga this season (65, 50 attempted, and 15 chances created).
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With Gerard Pique calling time on his career, Andreas Christensen has a window of opportunity to make his mark at FC Barcelona. The Dane has endured a stop-start stint thus far with the Blaugrana, with fitness issues hampering him considerably.
But after regaining fitness, Christensen has a chance to leave an impression on Xavi Hernandez. With Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde yet to recover from their issues, Christensen goes into Barcelona’s final game before the World Cup break as a certainty to make the starting eleven.
Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona
Osasuna will look to show that they are no pushovers this season. The hosts have already taken points off Real Madrid in the ongoing campaign. And with Barcelona stuttering in clutch moments in Europe, Jagoba Arrasate’s charges will aim to strike a blow in La Liga.
The hosts should take the game to Barcelona, but they might struggle to break past a sturdy defence. Meanwhile, Robert Lewandowski will be itching to return to scoring ways after failing to find the back of the net against Almeria. The Hard Tackle predicts a closely-contested affair that should end in a 2-1 victory for Xavi Hernandez’s men.
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