Match Preview: Barcelona vs Real Zaragoza
Camp Nou — Barcelona
November 18, 2012 12:30 AM IST
Barcelona face Zaragoza at home this weekend in the Liga. Barcelona are currently top of the league with 10 wins and a draw in their first 11 matches. This has seen them open up a three-point lead over second placed Atletico Madrid and a huge eight-point gap over their capital rivals, Madrid. Zaragoza are currently in 11th place, 16 points behind Barca. Barca will be looking to extend their lead over Madrid by winning this match.
Barcelona have come back strongly in the league since their loss to Celtic in the Champions League. They will be looking to extend their record-best start to the season. Of course, for any team, a loss-less 11 matches, with 10 wins could only be described as a dream. But Barca have made it look effortless, as they have destroyed opponents without really shifting into top gear. Due credit to their maestro Messi, who in their last match overtook Pele for the most goals scored in a calendar year. He is currently on 76 goals for this year, just nine shy of Mueller’s all time record. He is ahead of his adversary Ronaldo, but the way these two go against each other, every match of every season is something to savour for us lesser mortals.
On the injury front, forward Sanchez is sidelined after picking up a knock while playing for Chile in the midweek round of international friendlies. Puyol is back though and is expected to start alongside Pique in the heart of defence. Busquets is suspended after picking up five yellow cards this season already. Song and Adriano are doubtful starters owing to back and hamstring strains respectively.
Zaragoza are on a rare rich vein of form, as they have won four of their last five matches. They had lost to Madrid 4-0 just two games back, but one thing that they never seem to be short of in their matches is excitement and goals. They won their last match 5-3, versus Deportivo. Apono and Postiga have been playing well together and you can expect the forwards to test Barca’s defence. One, maybe the only, complaint against Barca at times has been the vulnerability of their keeper Valdes. He is still susceptible to headers from set pieces and long shots. So expect quite a few crosses bombarded in to try and find the head of Postiga.
On the injury front, Maurizio Lanzaro and Ivan Obradovic are still out injured, but midfielder Jose Mari could return from a knee problem. Defenders Sapunaru and Abraham are out through suspension and this might leave their defence a bit exposed against the firepower of the Catalans.
Probable Starting Lineups
Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba
Xavi, Song, Iniesta
Pedro, Messi, Villa
Zuculini, Loovens, Alvaro, Paredes
Rodriguez, Apono, Montanes
Last 5 matches
11-Nov-2012 Mallorca 2 – Barcelona 4 LIGA
08-Nov-2012 Celtic 2 – Barcelona 1 UCL
03-Nov-2012 Barcelona 3 – Celta 1 LIGA
31-Oct-2012 Alaves 0 – Barcelona 3 ESPC
28-Oct-2012 Rayo Vallecano 0 – Barcelona 5 LIGA
1-Nov-2012 Zaragoza 5 – Deportivo 3 LIGA
04-Nov-2012 Real Madrid 4 – Zaragoza 0 LIGA
01-Nov-2012 Zaragoza 1 – Ciudad de Murcia 0 ESPC
28-Oct-2012 Zaragoza 2 – Sevilla 1 LIGA
21-Oct-2012 Ciudad de Murcia 1 – Zaragoza 2 LIGA
- Barca are still unbeaten in the Liga after 11 matches.
- They are also on an 11 match winning streak at the Nou Camp.
- Messi has a massive 76 goals this calendar year.
- Zaragoza have won 4 of their last 5 matches across all competitions.
- Los Blanquillos, are on a 8 match losing streak versus Barca in the Liga. The last time that they won over their illustrious opponents was in February 2007, in a Copa del Rey quarter final fixture.
You would expect the usual Messi versus the world as the key battle in this segment of any preview. But the actual key battle may well be Postiga and Apono versus Valdes as they try to get one in by head or by deflection.
Zaragoza aren’t a team that would park the bus. They would rather go all out and lose the match, hence expect a truckload of goals this match. Eventually though, Barca have too much quality in their ranks to tide over the White wave.
Barcelona 4 – 2 Real Zaragoza