By 90Min
January 27, 2018

Barcelona will be looking to continue their unbeaten La Liga run on Sunday evening when they host Deportivo Alaves at the Camp Nou. 

Since Ernesto Valverde's side fell to their first defeat of the campaign a little under two weeks ago, Blaugrana have marched on strong, dispatching free-scoring Real Betis 5-0 last weekend and securing their place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals after overcoming a one-goal deficit against close rivals Espanyol on Thursday. 

Alaves, meanwhile, make the just over 350-mile trip from the Basque Country to Catalonia while hovering three points above the relegation zone and find themselves with just one win on the road in their last five, although their 2-1 cup win over Valencia midweek will give them encouragement.

However, the stats are certainly not in the visitors' corner, having secured victory over Barcelona just five times since the 1930/31 season, and the hosts will be confident they can continue that trend on Sunday. 

Here's everything you need to know about this weekend's clash.


Classic Encounter

Barcelona 3-2 Alaves (January 2001)

Firo Foto/GettyImages

January 2001 marked a time where, despite fielding some of the world's superstars, Barcelona had a habit of churning up lacklustre performances. 

This La Liga thriller was no different, as even though tidy link-up play between Rivaldo and former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars on two occasions gave Lorenzo Serra Ferrer's side a comfortable buffer, which was added to by Patrick Kluivert in the second-half, Alaves were given hope with two quick-fire goals. 

Former Camp Nou academy product Javi Moreno dragged his side back into the contest from the spot minutes before Brazilian striker Mango calmly slotted past goalkeeper Pepe Reina to put his side within touching distance. 

However, despite a dubious late decision to rule out what looked a perfectly good Mango finish, Blaugrana held on to claim all three points.  


Key Battle


Jordi Alba vs Ibai Gomez

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

Although primarily suited to sit on the left of a midfield four, Ibai Gomez has taken to the right wing position a number of times this term, including during his side's victory over Valencia on Wednesday. 

This weekend, however, the 28-year-old Basque Country-born attacker will face the challenge of overcoming Jordi Alba, who has been an underrated attacking asset for Barcelona all season. 

The left-back has created six goals so far this campaign, as well as netted once himself, and despite Gomez's also impressive attacking record within a struggling Alaves outfit, it is likely his role will be more defensive-minded on Sunday. 


Team News

LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Record-signing Philippe Coutinho could be in line to make his first start for Barcelona this weekend since securing his £140m switch from Liverpool earlier this month.


The Brazilian recorded an impressive 22-minute cameo on Thursday evening as he replaced Andres Iniesta in an almost passing of the torch moment, and Valverde has not been shy to call upon his players relatively quickly following their return from injury so far this term. 

This was no more evident than with Samuel Umtiti, who will likely record his first league start since since December, after he was reintroduced into the fold during his side's 5-0 win at Betis last weekend following Thomas Vermaelen being forced off with a hamstring injury. 

Alaves, meanwhile, are without wing-back pairing Hector Hernandez, who is currently on loan from Real Sociedad, and Carlos Vigaray, who is yet to recover from his knee injury he suffered in November. 

Burgui is another who is sidelined for the visitors, and will be so long-term, after tearing an abductor muscle earlier this month. 


Prediction


Barcelona's record so far this season shows even when faced with injury troubles and arguably a lesser depth of squad compared to others, they still possess the capabilities to sweep all aside. 

Unlike their previous two clashes, Blaugrana will be heading into this weekend's clash eyeing a comfortable victory, and despite their impressive showing against Valencia in midweek, Alaves simply will not have enough to trouble the La Liga leaders. 


Score Prediction: Barcelona 4-0 Alaves

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