Preview: Osasuna vs. Barcelona
Barcelona’s final match before the campaign breaks for the World Cup will take place at Estadio El Sadar on Tuesday night, with high-flying Osasuna welcoming the Catalan giants in La Liga.
The visitors will enter the match off the back of a 2-0 victory over Almeria on Saturday, while Osasuna beat Celta Vigo 2-1 to make it 10 points from their last four matches during a strong run of form.
Since losing 2-0 at Villarreal on October 17, Osasuna have beaten Espanyol, Real Valladolid and Celta in the league, in addition to drawing 1-1 with Girona, and the strong run has seen them move into fifth spot in the table.
Los Rojillos have won seven, drawn two and lost four of their 13 league games this season to collect 23 points, which has left them level with third-placed Atletico Madrid.
A double from Ezequiel Avila saw Jagoba Arrasate’s side record a 2-1 victory over Celta on Saturday, and the home team will now be looking to make it three victories in a row on Tuesday night.
Osasuna, who have another game against Fuentes in the Copa del Rey on Saturday, suffered a 4-0 defeat in their last clash with Barcelona back in March, but the points were shared in a 2-2 draw at Estadio El Sadar last term.
The Pamplona-based outfit have finished 10th, 11th and 10th in their last three La Liga campaigns, but they were seventh as recent as 2011-12, and a European challenge this term cannot be ruled out considering their results and performances in the opening months of the campaign.
Barcelona, meanwhile, will enter the match off the back of a 2-0 victory over Almeria on Saturday night, with Gerard Pique bidding farewell to Camp Nou, as he prepares to retire from professional football.
Pique captained the Catalan giants on what was an emotional night for the centre-back, and Xavi’s side managed to secure an important three points courtesy of second-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong, with the result moving them back to the top of the table.
Barcelona are currently two points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, but the champions would return to the summit if they manage to overcome Rayo Vallecano on Sunday night.
There is no getting away from the fact that the Catalan outfit were hugely disappointing in the Champions League, but they have been excellent in the league this season, winning 11, drawing one and losing one of their 13 matches, scoring 31 times and conceding just four in the process.
Barcelona will be targeting La Liga, Europa League and Copa del Rey success in the second half of the campaign, and it will be fascinating to see what the team can achieve this term, especially as more business during the January transfer window cannot be ruled out.
Osasuna La Liga form:
Barcelona La Liga form:
Barcelona form (all competitions):
We say: Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona
This has the potential to be a very, very difficult match for Barcelona considering Osasuna’s form this season. It would certainly not be a surprise to see Osasuna claim a win or indeed a point, but we just have a feeling that Barcelona will do enough to pick up an important three points ahead of the break.