Barcelona travel to Estadio El Alcoraz to face lowly Huesca this Saturday as the Catalans close in on a fourth La Liga title in five years.
The visitors secured a 1-0 first leg lead in their Champions League quarter-final tie with Manchester United on Wednesday, Luke Shaw unwittingly diverting Luis Suarez's header past David de Gea for the only goal at Old Trafford. That was their 10th win in their previous 11 games in all competitions, with last week's pivotal 2-0 defeat of championship rivals Atletico Madrid sending Barça 11 points clear atop the league table.
Conversely, opponents Huesca are rooted to the foot of the table, six points adrift of safety. They have failed to win any of their last five, though they go into the clash with the champions off the back of successive draws against Celta Vigo and Levante, respectively.
Check out 90min's preview of the meeting below.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Saturday 13 March|
|What Time is Kick Off?||15:15 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Estadio El Alcoraz|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Bet365|
|Referee?||Eduardo Prieto Iglesias|
Barcelona will be without Suarez and centre back Gerard Pique for the encounter, both of whom are suspended after they each picked up their 10th booking of season in the top of the table clash with Atletico.
They are joined on the sidelines by midfielder Rafinha and Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen. The former ruptured his cruciate knee ligament in November and is expected to be out for the remainder of the campaign, while Vermaelen has a thigh strain.
Huesca full-back pairing Carlos Akapo and Luisinho will not feature as they continue to recover from long term injuries. However, manager Francisco could have defender Jorge Miramon back available, the 29-year-old having returned to training this week following a hamstring problem.
|Huesca||Santamaria; Miramon, Mantovani, Dieguez, Galan; Herrera, Rivera, Gomez; Avila, Gallego, Hernandez.|
|Barcelona||Cillessen; Roberto, Lenglet, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Arthur, Vidal; Coutinho, Dembele, Malcom.|
Head to Head Record
This is the first time in their history that Huesca have hosted Barcelona in La Liga, with the pair having only met on three previous occasions in all competitions. When they faced off in September, Barcelona annihilated their opponents, running out resounding 8-2 victors.
That result was only marginally better for Los Azulgranas than their previous encounter with the Catalans, a match in which the latter once again netted eight times. However, the strugglers managed just a single goal during that Copa del Rey fixture in 2014.
The overall aggregate score is astonishingly lopsided in favour of Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde's men leading 20-3.
Barça are unbeaten since 23 January when Sevilla recorded a superb 2-0 win in the first leg of their cup tie. However, their last loss in league action came in November, Real Betis stunning the five-time European champions at the Nou Camp.
The 1-0 victory over the Red Devils in midweek was their third clean sheet in four and took them to 21 goals in their previous seven matches in all competitions. Unsurprisingly, Messi has been lethal for the team, the diminutive Argentine taking his tally to 43 for the campaign during the meeting with Atletico last week.
Huesca have scored in each of their last seven La Liga games, their best ever streak in the Spanish top flight. Unfortunately, their last victory came over a month ago, the relegation battlers securing an unexpected 2-1 win at home to Sevilla.
Here's how the two teams got on in their last five games:
|Levante 2-2 Huesca (07/4)||Manchester United 0-1 Barcelona (10/4)|
|Huesca 3-3 Celta Vigo (03/4)||Barcelona 2-0 Atletico Madrid (06/4)|
|Real Madrid 3-2 Huesca (31/3)||Villarreal 4-4 Barcelona (02/4)|
|Huesca 1-3 Alaves (16/3)||Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol (30/3)|
|Getafe 2-1 Huesca (09/3)||Real Betis 1-4 Barcelona (17/3)|
Everything points very firmly towards a convincing victory for the visitors. Barça have been electric in recent weeks, seemingly able to turn on the style and put opponents to the sword at will. Moreover, their decimation of Huesca in their meeting earlier in the year suggests the La Liga newbies could be in for another harrowing afternoon.
As cruel as it may seem, Saturday's match-up will likely be a case of how many Barcelona score or, perhaps more accurately, how many they want to score. With the return leg against United coming just three days afterwards, the hosts may get off lightly.
Prediction: Huesca 0-3 Barcelona.