Osasuna vs Barcelona
Start date: 31. Aug 2019, 20:00
Location: Pamplona Venue: Estadio El Sadar
Referee: Juan Martinez Munuera, Spain
Barcelona’s defence of their Primera Division crown continues against Osasuna on Saturday, though for the time being the football feels like a sideshow to their ongoing pursuit of Neymar.
Only a couple of days left remain for the Catalans to lure the Brazil star back from Paris Saint-Germain, but for head coach Ernesto Valverde, he cannot wait for that distraction to be over.
“We’re very much looking forward to the end of the transfer window and resting,” he said. “It’s getting tiresome. I’ve got nothing to say on the subject of Neymar – we’ll see what happens.”
With Barca unable to buy the attacker back outright, they have been reportedly offering a variety of players in part-exchange, which has doubtless had an unsettling effect on the squad.
Nevertheless, they showed glimpses of their brilliant best in a 5-2 win over Real Betis last weekend, in which summer arrival Antoine Griezmann picked up the baton of the absent Lionel Messi to shine.
It was a terrific response following a flat 1-0 defeat to Athletic Club on the opening weekend of action, and set the level that Valverde will demand of his side in the weeks and months ahead.
Osasuna, meanwhile, do not have the lofty ambitions of their guests but do believe that the timing of this fixture falls in their favour.
“Obviously I think it is better that Messi, Suarez and Dembele are not available because they are the best they have; but you have to be aware of Barca’s bench. The 11 they put out will be very good, ” defender David Garcia said.
“I see us having a real chance to fight in this game. They will dominate, as usual, but we’ll try to get something with the encouragement of our fans.”
Ernesto Valverde is playing it safe at the beginning of the season, with Lionel Messi having been left out of the squad for the trip to Osasuna too. But he is not the only player to miss out, with Barcelona’s new signing Junior Firpo also excluded for injury reasons.
Barça will be without a total of five players, while Valverde has decided to leave out Jean-Clair Todibo and Carles Aleñá. But notwithstanding, the squad should be strong enough to beat Osasuna by a comprehensive margin.
Current Osasuna squad is:
Forwards: Adrián López, Juan Villar, Brandon, Chimy Ávila, Marc Cardona, Jaiver Martinez Calvo
Midfilders: Oier, Fran Mérida, Darko Brašanac, Iñigo Pérez, Roberto Torres, Rubén García, Robert Ibáñez, Enrique Barja Alfonso, Luis Perea
Defenders: Facundo Roncaglia, Aridane Hernandez, Lillo Castellano, Raúl Navas, Unai García, David García, Pervis Estupinan, Nacho Vidal, Endika Irigoyen Bravo
Goalkeepers: Rubén Martínez, Juan Pérez, Sergio Herrera
Current Barcelona squad is:
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Antoine Griezmann, Carles Pérez, Ousmane Dembélé, Anssumane Fati
Midfilders: Ivan Rakitić, Arturo Vidal, Sergio Busquets, Rafinha Alcántara, Arthur, Carles Aleñá, Frenkie de Jong, Alex Collado, Monchu, Riqui Puig, Junior Firpo
Defenders: Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto, Nélson Semedo, Clément Lenglet, Moussa Wagué, Guillem Jaime, Ronald Araujo, Jean-Clair Todibo
Goalkeepers: Neto, Marc-André ter Stegen, Iñaki Peña