Following a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Sevilla in La Copa del Rey, Barcelona back again on the road as they ready themselves to face an Osasuna side in some of their best form all season.
Date and Kickoff Time: 5 March; 21:00h CET
Stadium: Estadio El Sadar, Pamplona
Competition: La Liga Santander
Referee: Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez
The last time Fútbol Club Barcelona and Club Atlético Osasuna faced off, the Catalans rank riot, scoring four goals, including Lionel Messi’s first from open play in dedication to Diego Armando Maradona. It was one of Barça’s best performances of the season, and the Blaugrana will now look to repeat the same level of performance away at El Sadar.
Heading into tomorrow afternoon’s game, both sides find themselves in rather similar form. Subsequent to their all inspiring 2-0 win at the Ramón Sanchez Pizjuan, the Garnet and Blue outfit booked their place in the Copa del Rey final, beating Los Nervionenses by 3 goals to nil in the Nou Camp with a sensational collective performance, which in large parts was in credit to Ronald Koeman.
Barça were, by and large, the superior side from the very onset of the tie and were rewarded for their diligence and perseverance with a 3-0 win. That win was their fifteenth from eighteen matches this calendar year, meaning that in just over two months, the Blaugrana have won more games then they did in the first four months of the season.
Osasuna come into this match on the back of possibly their best run of form this season. Ever since the turn of the year, Los Rojillos have won fifteen points from a possible, eclipsing the thirteen they won in their first fifteen games of the season. When compared to their tally on expected points, their performances line up perfectly, a true testament to how much they’ve improved of late.
What to expect from Osasuna?
Still, in a zone of relative familiarity in midtable in La Liga, Osasuna have begun the second half of the campaign in a rather encouraging manner.
They kicked off the new year with a draw against Real Sociedad, then went on a run that saw them record just one win in six. Ever since their draw against Valencia, they’ve won 12 points from a potential eighteen in a run that has seen them win four games out of six played. This was a run that saw them thump Granada by three goals to one in a quite enthralling encounter, culminated with their victory over Deportivo Alavés this past weekend.
As per expected statistics, Osasuna have the seventh-worst attack in the division, at 25 expected goals from 25 games and the tenth worst-performing defence, at a rather unimpressive 33.2xGA. In perfect parallel to their position on the table, the Andalusian outfit are twelfth on the log as per expected points. This is an easier recoverable position, as should they beat the Blaugrana tomorrow night, they will — albeit momentarily — jump to tenth on the log, leapfrogging Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo, who both play on Sunday.
Jagoba Arrasate’s men may well shape up in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 setup. For large parts of the game, Osasuna will look to maintain a low block, seeking to force the Catalans out wide to prevent play from progressing centrally. They are, to an extent, organized however, either due to tactical indiscipline or a lack of a lack of direction, they leave gaps from time to time which are easily exploited by their rivals.
They tend to attack down the right-wing, with 40% of their attacks being played down that flank, closely followed by the left at 38%. They do this by playing the two wide as wingers in possession, looking both to run into space as well as create it for their strikers up top. They are by no means one of La Liga’s possession heavy sides, as they average around 43% ball retention in games and with — just — a 67% pass success rate across the board.
What to expect from Barcelona?
The match against Sevilla in the cup was the perfect opportunity to show their competitive spirit, and such was the level of Barcelona’s performance that they rendered their visitors utterly powerless to their assaults. On the back of performance of such magnitude, Ronald Koeman is expected to make several key changes to his starting eleven.
Given the shape of the opponents, Koeman might revert to a 4-3-3 or possibly even a 4-2-3-1 to fill up all possible gaps within the opponents’ system. Following Gerard Piqué’s injury late into the tie against Los Nervionenses, Oscar Mingueza is due to deputise for him in the right centre back role, partnered with Clément Lenglet to his left. Despite his underwhelming performance against Sevilla, Sergiño Dest will almost certainly remain in the starting eleven.
The midfield is unlikely to change, although if it will, then it will be for Riqui Puig to take Frenkie de Jong’s place. In the final third, following Ousmane Dembélé’s injury scare, Francisco Trincão might just take back the right-wing role from his French counterpart, with Antoine Griezmann slotting in the left.
An absolute pain to Barcelona, former La Masia player Robert Torres played an integral part in keeping the La Liga trophy away from his former club last season. First through his brace in Pamplona, then with his heart-wrenching winner right at the death in the Camp Nou, Roberto Torres is certainly a player Barça would not want to mess with.
This season, he has scored four times and provided a further assist in his 23 games played. On expected statistics, the Spaniard has 2.63 expected goals, and 1.34 expected assists, leaving him an average of 0.28 expected goals scored or assisted per 90. Playing as an attack-minded midfielder, his final ball is his biggest strength, one Barcelona have to ensure they mitigate if they are to maintain their phenomenal start to the year.
Previous Games: WLWWL
Deportivo Alavés 0-1 Osasuna | La Liga
Osasuna 0-2 Sevilla | La Liga
Levante 0-1 Osasuna | La Liga
Osasuna 2-1 Eibar | La Liga
Real Betis 1-0 Osasuna | La Liga
Position in La Liga
28 points in 25 games
7 win, 7 draws, 11 losses
23 goals scored, 33 goals conceded
-10 goal difference
Previous games: WWWDL
Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla | Copa Del Rey
Sevilla 0-2 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 3-0 Elche | La Liga
Barcelona 1-1 Cádiz | La Liga
Barcelona 1-4 PSG | UEFA Champions League
Position in La Liga
53 points in 25 games
16 wins, 5 draws and 4 losses
55 Goals Scored, 22 Goals Conceded
+33 Goal Difference
Barcelona 4–0 Osasuna| La Liga 20/21
Barcelona 1–2 Osasuna | La Liga 19/20
Osasuna 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga 19/20
Barcelona 7–1 Osasuna| La Liga 16/17
Osasuna 0–3 Barcelona | La Liga 16/17
- Barcelona are on a run of 15 games without defeat in La Liga.
- Barcelona have won only one of thsir last three ties against Osasuna.
- Osasuna have won four of their last 6 games in La Liga.
- Osasuna haven’t lost to Barcelona in Pamplona since 2016.
Injuries: Facundo Roncaglia, Chimy Avila
Vidal • Aridane • D Garcia • Cruz
Torro • Oier • Moncayola
Torres • Calleri • R Garcia
Coach: Jagoba Arraste
Injured: Ansu Fati, Gerard Piqué, Ronald Araújo, Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto
Dest • Mingueza • Lenglet • Alba
Pedri • Busquets • Riqui Puig
Trincão • Messi • Griezmann
Coach: Ronald Koeman
With Ousmane Dembélé’s absence, Barcelona lose what would ideally have been the key to unlocking their opponents. Matches between Barcelona and Osasuna have been rather difficult of late, but given the difference in calibre between the two sides, this should be an easy victory for the Blaugrana
Barca Universal Prediction: Osasuna 0-2 Barcelona
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