Barcelona suffered their first league defeat of an incredible season to date against Real Sociedad last Saturday, yet there lead at the top of the table remains a healthy one—eight points over Atletico Madrid and 15 points over Real Madrid before this weekend’s fixtures.
And with the first-leg against Madrid coming up on Wednesday, Barcelona could be forgiven for switching their focus prematurely. But Xavi has his mind firmly on Osasuna.
“We want to get back to winning in the league after losing at [Real Sociedad’s stadium] Anoeta and this Sunday will give us the chance. [Coach Jose Luis] Mendilibar’s Osasuna will always make things difficult though.”
Barcelona came through what was arguably their first decisive game of the season in midweek as they took a 2-2 score line form their first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal to Malaga. The team responded in familiar style with a 4-2 victory and Xavi claims to be happy with his side’s form.
“We came through what was a must win game at La Rosaleda,” he added. “We just need to be a little bit more effective in front of goal to finish games off. I think we are at a good level and we are enjoying ourselves right now—I always feel good when I’ve got players in front of the ball.”
On Sunday, Barcelona face an Osasuna side still mired in the relegation zone despite a potentially vital 2-1 victory over fellow-strugglers Deportivo La Coruna last time out.
Mendilibar will be again be without Asier Riesgo, David Timor and Sisi through injury, while Damia is ruled out through suspension. A debut may be given to new Chilean loan signing Francisco Silva.
For Barcelona, Gerad Pique will be suspended following his sending off against Sociedad last weekend. Lionel Messi looks to have shrugged off a slight injury having taken past in training on Saturday.
D: Adriano, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba
M: Thiago, Busquets, Fabregas
F: Pedro, Messi, Iniesta
D: Bertran, Ruben, Arribas, Nano
M: Lolo, Oier
Cejudi, Nino, Armenteros
Prediction: Barcelona have been dominant over Osasuna in recent times, including an 8-0 demolition in the corresponding fixture last season. After suffering a first defeat, the Blaugrana will be eager to put things right and show that the upset was merely a blip. Jordi Roura, who will again be in charge on Sunday, has hinted that he is not thinking about the match with Madrid, although there could still be one or two changes.
For a team in their position, Osasuna’s defensive record is surprisingly impressive, but that back line could well be tested to the full against Barcelona.
Barcelona 3-0 Osasuna
Where to watch: The La Liga clash will kick-off at 1 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.