Preview: Barcelona vs. Alaves

Preview: Barcelona vs. Alaves

Barcelona, who are languishing down in ninth position in the La Liga table, will start life after Ronald Koeman with a clash at home to Alaves on Saturday night.

The Catalan giants sacked Koeman as head coach following Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano, and Barcelona B boss Sergi Barjuan has been appointed as first-team manager on an interim basis.

In truth, Koeman’s departure on Wednesday evening did not come as a surprise, with the Dutchman under severe pressure at Camp Nou due to a disappointing start to the campaign.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta decided against sacking the head coach after the 2-1 loss to Real Madrid last weekend, but Wednesday’s defeat at Rayo proved to be Koeman’s last act, with the club’s former centre-back allegedly informed that he was being relieved of his duties during the flight home from Madrid.

As mentioned, Barcelona B boss Barjuan has been placed in charge on an interim basis, with the club working to appoint Xavi as their long-term manager, and the legendary midfielder has reportedly already agreed terms with his former team, although an exit from Al Sadd still needs to be agreed.

A record of four wins, three draws and three defeats from 10 matches has seen the Catalan outfit collect 15 points, which has left them down in ninth position in the table as things stand.

There is still more than enough time for the season to turn around, though, and Xavi – if he arrives – will inherit a squad packed full of talented youngsters and one which is certainly capable of pushing high up the table in the coming months with the right guidance.

Alaves will be tasked with inflicting more damage on Barcelona this weekend, but the Basque outfit suffered a 5-1 defeat when they last travelled to Camp Nou back in February.

Javi Calleja’s side are actually the only side in La Liga yet to draw a match this term, having won three and lost seven of their 10 fixtures, which has brought them nine points and left them in 16th spot in the table.

Alaves should be full of confidence entering Saturday’s match, as they have picked up maximum points from their last two fixtures, winning 2-0 at Cadiz last weekend before recording a 1-0 victory over Elche on Tuesday, with Mamadou Loum netting the only goal of the contest in the second period.

El Glorioso are actually in their sixth straight season at this level of football, but they have ended the last two campaigns in 16th and could face a battle against the drop once again.

If given the chance, Alaves would surely liked to have tackled Barcelona under Koeman’s leadership due to the issues that were present, and a change at the helm could make this a very difficult assignment for the visitors.

Barcelona La Liga form:
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Barcelona form (all competitions):
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Alaves La Liga form:
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We say: Barcelona 3-1 Alaves
For all of Barcelona’s problems this season, there is still so much quality in their squad. Alaves will be feeling good about themselves after successive victories, but we believe that the home side will return to winning ways in relatively routine fashion.

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