I’m very optimistic, and that makes me nervous.
We’ve been playing a lot better than Barcelona the last couple of weeks, there’s a really good energy around the team, and we were able to rest a lot of key players against Real Betis. This is as good a chance as any to take down Barcelona.
As the manager from Barca Blaugranes told us yesterday a key element in the psychological makeup of tomorrow’s match is what happens earlier in the day in El Viejo Clasico between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. If the capital club wins that match they’ll be seven points clear of Barca for the La Liga title. If they lose, Barca will have the chance to pull within one point if they beat us, and I’d imagine that would leave them desperately motivated.
Unless you live under a rock you know what this team is all about. They wanna get the ball to Lionel Messi and rely on him to work magic. The days of a cohesive, deadly from front to back Barcelona are gone and as long as this current administration are running the club they seem unlikely to return. Trouble for us is, ‘get the ball to Messi and let him do stuff’ can still be a very very effective strategy.
Last time we faced Barca we lost 2-1 in a packed Camp Nou in a match with basically even xG. The Barca goalscorers in that match were Arthur Melo, who they just traded for a much older player who isn’t as good as him, and Antoine Griezmann, who Setien didn’t trust enough to give real playing time in the Atleti match. Messi had an assist.
Umtiti, Dembele, Busquets, and Arturo Vidal will all miss this match for various reasons. Worth noting and keeping an eye on, if Leo Messi gets a yellow against us he will miss Barca’s derbi with Espanyol.
Tactically, this battle just about guarantees to be quite different than our last matchup with Barcelona. Ernesto Valverde has been fired and Javi Calleja looks like a new man since football returned. We ran a 4231 in that match, and this time around we will almost certainly be in the 442 that has worked so well for us the last few weeks.
Assuming Iborra’s back is fine, we should be in pretty good shape availability wise for this one, but if Gerard gets a yellow we won’t have him against Getafe. Here’s a predicted XI:
The most debatable decisions are probably the fullbacks. I’d go with Pena/Quintilla myself, but I fully expect Calleja to go with his more experienced players, and given his recent run of results who am I to argue?
I wouldn’t be shocked if we get ourselves a lead here and then Messi does something ridiculous to draw them level later on. 1-1 draw.