Barcelona are looking to make it two wins from two in La Liga when they travel to the Basque Country to face Alaves on Saturday.
The Catalan giants put the disappointment of losing the Spanish Supercopa to Real Madrid behind them with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis in their opening league game and they will attempt to carry that momentum into the game.
With off-field issues regarding Neymar and the pursuit of transfer targets overshadowing the beginning of the club’s season, the Blaugrana will be determined to give fans something to cheer about on the pitch.
|Game||Alaves vs Barcelona|
|Date||Saturday, August 26|
|Time||17:15 (BST) / 12:15 (ET)|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the match will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports Mix and by via online stream using the Sky Go app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Mix||Sky Go|
In the US, the match will be available to watch live on television on beIn Sports, as well as being available to stream online using beIn CONNECT.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIn Sports||beIn CONNECT|
SQUAD & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Ter Stegen, Cillessen|
|Defenders||Semedo, Pique, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba, Digne, Vidal, Marlon, Douglas, Vermaelen|
|Midfielders||Rakitic, Busquets, D. Suarez, Turan, Iniesta, Rafinha, Paulinho, Roberto, Gomes|
|Forwards||Messi, L. Suarez, Deulofeu, Alcacer, Munir|
Barca will be without Luis Suarez, who has been ruled out for up to five weeks with a knee injury. Paco Alcacer joined the attacking triumvirate in the Uruguayan’s absence against Real Betis along with Gerard Deulofeu and Lionel Messi, so should continue that role.
Andres Iniesta missed the last two games with a muscle injury, but the 33-year-old posted a message on his official Twitter page on Wednesday to indicate that he is ready to return on Saturday. However, Rafinha remains out.
Potential starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Sergi Roberto; Deulofeu, Alcacer, Messi.
|Goalkeepers||Pacheco, Sivera, Landeta|
|Defenders||Vigaray, Duarte, Alexis, Laguardia, Maripan, Ely, Hector, Dieguez, Galilea|
|Midfielders||Katai, Romero, Ibai, D. Torres, Pedraza, Pina, Garcia, Enzo, Wakaso, Lopez|
|Forwards||Sobrino, Santos, Burgui, Demirovic|
Alaves will be without the services of defensive duo Victor Laguardia and Einar Galilea for the game. Ibai Gomez scored when Alaves defeated Barca at Camp Nou last season and is likely to feature, but Deyverson, who also scored, has departed for Palmeiras
Potential starting XI: Pacheco; Alexis, Ely, Vigaray; Wakaso, Garcia, Ibai, Pedraza, Burgui; Santos, Sobrino
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Barcelona are 3/10 favourites to win, according to dabblebet, with Alaves considered 10/1 bets to beat Ernesto Valverde’s men. A draw is priced at 9/2.
The hosts managed to beat their Catalan counterparts 2-1 away last term and there are odds of 28/1 on them repeating that scoreline at Estadio de Mendizorroza.
As they prepare for their second league game of the 2017-18 season, Barcelona have the look of a club teetering on the brink of crisis and the team must do what they can to remain focused on delivering success.
The loss of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain – as well as the subsequent souring of relations with the Brazilian – and the failure to land Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool have been further compounded by the ongoing uncertainty over Messi’s future.
Amid that disruptive cocktail of events, Barca lost Luis Suarez to a knee injury, which will keep him out for another four weeks at least, while Andres Iniesta was also struck down and missed the last two games.
However, Valverde will be keen not to let such considerations derail their bid for La Liga glory at such an early stage and he will be demanding nothing less than a convincing victory against Alaves, which should set them up nicely ahead of their local derby against Espanyol.
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