?Having only mustered a draw away at Borussia Dortmund in their midweek Champions League fixture, Barcelona travel to Granada in La Liga on Saturday.
The title holders have made an average start to their league campaign, amassing seven points from four games, lingering three points behind league leaders Sevilla in fifth.
Granada are level on points with Ernesto Valverde’s men, having won back-to-back games, and should be optimistic of taking something from the match.
Here’s 90min’s preview of the game.
Where to Watch
|?When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 21 September?|
|?What Time Is Kick Off?||?20:00 (BST)|
|?Where Is it Played?||?Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes|
|?TV Channel/Live Stream?||?Premier Sports 2|
?Lionel Messi could make his first start of the season, having returned to action on Tuesday from the bench in a tie dominated by ?Dortmund.
Left-back Jordi Alba pulled his hamstring in the same game and should be out of action for a few weeks, while ?Ousmane Dembele is close a comeback.
Defender Samuel Umtiti is expected to remain sidelined for at least another month with a foot problem.
Granada, meanwhile, are without as many as four players – Alex Martinez, Neyder Lozano, Yan Brice and Fede Vico.
|?Granada||?Silva; Diaz, Duarte, Sanchez, Quini; Herrera, Montoro; Puertas, Vico, Machis; Soldado.|
|?Barcelona||?Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Semedo; De Jong, Busquets, Arthur; Perez, Suarez, Griezmann.|
Head to Head Record
?Barcelona have, unsurprisingly, dominated this fixture historically, with Granada only managing to not lose once – a 1-0 win over the Catalans in 2014, courtesy of a Yacine Brahimi goal.
? Valverde: “Messi played well against Dortmund, despite having been out for a while. We hope that as he gets more minutes, he gives us a lot -like he always has.” pic.twitter.com/BFnyNgiP0f
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 20, 2019
The last time the two sides met – back in 2017 – Barcelona ran out 4-1 winners, with goals from ?Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, ?Neymar and Paco Alcacer.
Barcelona have made a slow start to the season without their talismanic figure Messi, losing on the opening day to Aritz Aduriz’s incredible effort for Athletic Bilbao and only drawing with Osasuna.
5-2 wins over Real Betis and Valencia have been more convincing, but their goalless draw at the Westfalenstadion in midweek was uninspiring – they were fortunate not to lose.
?Granada, on the other hand, have performed well thus far since their promotion to the Spanish top flight, picking up seven points from their three games on the road.
Here’s how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:
|?Celta Vigo 0-2 Granada (15/9)||?Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona (17/9)|
|?Espanyol 0-3 Granada (1/9)||?Barcelona 5-2 Valencia (14/9)|
|?Granada 0-1 Sevilla (23/8)||?Osasuna 2-2 Barcelona (31/8)|
|?Villarreal 4-4 Granada (17/8)||?Barcelona 5-2 Betis (25/8)|
|?Granada 2-1 Sevilla (9/8)||?Bilbao 1-0 Barcelona (16/8)|
?Granada should be optimistic heading into this one, while Barcelona will be aware that they cannot afford to drop any further points at such an early stage of the season.
Granada have been better away from home, however, and a returning Messi should rejuvenate this Barcelona side.
Expect the main man to make the difference once more.
Prediction: Granada 1-3 Barcelona.