FC Barcelona will be looking to end 2013 in style tomorrow with an away win over Getafe CF in their final match of the calendar year – a match the Blaugrana will need to win if they want to finish the year on top of La Liga. When you consider just how much Barcelona have been through this year, it’s a minor miracle that we have led La Liga all throughout.
Illness and an eventual departure for Tito Vilanova, repeated injuries to Lionel Messi and of course, frenzied transfer activity in the capital; nothing has been able to knock Barça off their perch. In itself, that’s also testament to the strength and achievements of Atletico Madrid – but let’s not take any credit away from Barcelona. A lesser club would have relinquished the lead long ago and pointed to those misfortunes as an excuse – but not Barça.
If anything, they have served as added motivation for our players and before the squad depart on their well-earned winter break, we’d like to see one last performance, one last victory to kick-start the festive season. Will Gerardo Martino’s side be able to escape Madrid with the three points, or will Getafe end their year with a memorable victory over the reigning La Liga champions?
Club captain Carles Puyol has missed the trip to Madrid for "technical reasons" while his deputy, Xavi Hernández, also misses the match through injury, leaving Andrés Iniesta as the most senior member of the 18-man squad. Dani Alves on the other hand returns to the fold after shaking off his injury and could challenge Martin Montoya for a start at right-back. Despite facing the media on Friday, Victor Valdés will not play any part in tomorrow’s match.
This means that Jose Manuel Pinto will continue in goal, with Gerard Piqué and Marc Bartra likely to start in the centre of the Blaugrana defense. Jordi Alba should start on the left-hand side of defense, but he will face competition from Adriano, who has been in good form over the past few weeks and months.
Sergio Busquets will return at pivote after a well deserved rest in midweek as Barcelona defeated FC Cartagena at the Camp Nou, while there is every chance that Sergi Roberto will retain his place in midfield with Andrés Iniesta in support given Xavi’s continued absence and Neymar’s suspension.
After all, without the Brazilian to lead the attack, Martino will be forced to either hand the start to inexperienced Jean-Marie Dongou or move Cesc Fàbregas back into the frontline – a move that often prompts criticism from some Culés. Pedro and Alexis Sánchez will be available to provide support from the flanks – although personally, I would keep Fàbregas in midfield and start Sánchez through the middle, with Pedro and Cristian Tello on either flank.
With a win over Girona in midweek, Getafe booked their place in the Copa del Rey Round of 16, where they face off against FC Barcelona – meaning that this is just the first of four meetings between the two sides this season. While there is no such thing as an easy match, this clash has been something approaching that at least – Barcelona have lost just one encounter with Getafe in the past five years.
This season however may be different. Getafe have started the season well and despite a recent downturn in form, tomorrow’s side enter the match in eighth place and have their home form to thank. With four wins and two draws in eight matches, Getafe are tough to beat at the Alfonso Perez and will be looking to the likes of Pedro Leon and Adrian Colunga to inspire them to a result tomorrow evening.
FC Barcelona 6-1 Getafe CF – 10th February 2013 – La Liga
Barcelona romped to victory at the Camp Nou with six different players etching their names onto the scoresheet to secure an emphatic victory.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Pinto; Alves, Piqué, Bartra, Alba; Busquets, Roberto, Iniesta; Alexis, Fàbregas, Pedro
Getafe (4-2-3-1): Moya; Valera, Alexis, Rafa, Lago; Borja, Mosquera; Pedro Leon, Ciprian, Castro; Colunga
Barcelona should cruise to victory tomorrow – but I expect them to struggle for goals in the absence of Neymar and Messi. However, I see Pedro and Fàbregas each grabbing a goal in a 2-0 away win.
- FC Barcelona News: 21 December 2013; Dani Alves Rejoins 18-Man Squad, Xavi, Carles Puyol Won't Travel to Getafe
- FC Barcelona News: 20 December 2013; Lionel Messi Begins Third Phase of Recovery, Three Kickoff Times Announced
- FC Barcelona News: 19 December 2013; Barça Announce Andres Iniesta Extension, Dani Alves Returns to Training
- Copa del Rey: FC Barcelona 3-0 FC Cartagena: Player Ratings
- From The Mind of Xoel: Barça Marches On in the Copa