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La Liga: SD Eibar vs FC Barcelona: Match Preview

A preview of Barcelona's La Liga clash with SD Eibar, as the Blaugrana kick-off one of the most important weeks of their season

Sandra Montanez/Getty Images

FC Barcelona have the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of La Liga to four points tomorrow afternoon when they travel to Ipurua for the first time to take on Basque Country minnows, SD Eibar. The plucky little side from a provincial town in the region, Eibar have enjoyed a fairytale rise to the top flight, but after an impressive start to the season, the reality of life in Spain’s top tier is finally catching up to them.

The quality of opposition is simply proving too much and their squad, while their effort has been admirable, have been unable to cope as of late. Seven consecutive defeats signals one of the worst, if not the worst run of form amongst the top five European leagues and on paper, they’re unlikely to turn that around tomorrow with the visit of the Blaugrana.

After all, FC Barcelona might just be the best side in world football at present and their recent run of impressive form has seen them ascend back to the top of La Liga. All the key players are hitting form: Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Andrés Iniesta; just about everyone is in a run of good form and Barça have been virtually unbeatable.

Yet, if there was a potential banana skin match, this might just be it. This is Barcelona’s least important and lead glamorous match of the next eight or nine days depending on when you read this preview. We have Eibar tomorrow, but we also have Manchester City visiting in midweek before the final La Liga Clasico next weekend; often we see a dip in form immediately before an important week.

Is that a reason to feel cautious? Probably not – we should still win with ease, but it’s something to consider and in this instance, a win is our only option: I mean what hope do we have of beating Manchester City and Real Madrid if we can’t see off lowly Eibar?

With that in mind, Luis Enrique has named a strong squad for the trip up north; what do you say we get into it and predict his line-up?



Dani Alves and Jordi Alba are both suspended meaning that they miss out, but aside from that, Luis Enrique hasn’t rested a single star name. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Piqué; they’ve all been included and so has Javier Mascherano, even though the Argentine is one yellow away from missing El Clasico. The same can be said of Jeremy Mathieu, but really there’s probably not a single Culé who would be too concerned about that prospect.

The question is: while everyone has been included, will we still see some rotation?

Claudio Bravo will start in goal in his final match before the Clasico looking to keep what will be only his second clean sheet since the start of February – certainly, while everything has been going well on the field, it would be an added bonus if we could rediscover the miserly defensive form we displayed in the first half of the season.

Then again, while Eibar might not be the best team in the league, they are going to come up against a weakened Barça defense so a clean sheet might be a little unrealistic. Then again, a backline of Martin Montoya, Marc Bartra, Jeremy Mathieu and Adriano Correia should be more than capable of keeping Eibar out, right?

The trouble is that we might be a little light at pivote; Sergio Busquets is injured and with Javier Mascherano one yellow card away from a suspension, one expects that he will be omitted and that Ivan Rakitić will fill in, playing a more defensive role than he is accustomed to. On the plus side, that might give us a little more edge going forward, and that could prove beneficial if Eibar set up shop and play for the draw as we expect they might do.

Ahead of Rakitić, I would say expect to see Xavi, but the Eibar pitch isn’t exactly going to win any awards any time soon, and therefore it might not suit his style of play, or his Achilles, if indeed that niggling problem is still bothering him. Then again, we could use his leadership – so it could go either way. I can say with certainty that we will see Rafinha Alcântara back in the line-up though, and with the rest of the star players likely to take it a little easy, this could be a great opportunity for him to step up and lead by example.

Then again, even if Lionel Messi takes it easy, he might still score a hat-trick anyway. Last week was the perfect example: not at his best, but still far too good for just about everyone. I hope he conserves some energy for City and Real, but he needs to tread a fine line between doing just that, and enough to inspire us to victory in what could be a tough and unusual atmosphere.

Luis Suarez has been in incredible form, but I back Luis Enrique to demote him to the bench tomorrow to ensure he is in peak condition for the return leg against City and of course, the Clasico. Indeed, he has the perfect excuse as well as Neymar can return in his place! That’s good news for Pedro, but let’s hope he performs a little better than last week; we probably can’t afford to be as wasteful tomorrow.


Head coach Gaizka Garitano has been realistic about his side’s chances tomorrow admitting that it is going to be very difficult to get a result, but indicated that he is "optimistic" about the visit of the "best club in the world". The good news is that even though they are losing, they aren’t conceding very many – the bad news is that they simply can’t score and well, that all but rules out a positive result against this current Barça outfit.


Barcelona: WLWWWW



FC Barcelona 3-0 SD Eibar – 18th October 2014 – La Liga

A relatively comfortable night for the Blaugrana, who cruised to victory with a second-half triple, courtesy of Xavi, Neymar and Lionel Messi.


Barcelona (4-3-3): Bravo; Montoya, Bartra, Mathieu, Adriano; Rakitić, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha; Pedro, Messi, Neymar

Eibar (4-2-3-1): Irureta; Boveda, Navas, Albentosa, Castellano; Ekiza, Errasti; Capa, Arruabarrena, Saul; Lekic


I think we might find it tough in the first-half, but our quality will shine through in the end – another 3-0 win for Barça.

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