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La Liga: FC Barcelona vs. Leganés: Team News, Match Preview

Barça travel to Madrid looking to extend their unbeaten start to the league season

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Barcelona v Sevilla - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Welcome back, Barcelona! After what felt like 232 years of international break, the greatest club on Earth will play football again. While watching Barça hasn’t been the most exciting thing this season, this is the team we love and we get to watch them again.

If the 343 weeks of international matches made you forget about what happened before the latest break, Barça remain unbeaten in La Liga and have made the best start in the history of the Spanish league with 31 points from their first 11 games, which keeps the Blaugrana four points above Valencia and eight points ahead of Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, who face each other this weekend.

Ernesto Valverde has had a tremendous start in terms of results, but the performances have definitely not been great. But the last game gave us hope: the first half against Sevilla was without a doubt the brightest 45 minutes of the season. The team was constantly attacking, passing the ball quickly and moving without it to find gaps inside the opponent’s defense. Lionel Messi was the best player on the pitch as usual, but the whole team played well and that was very encouraging.

The second half was pretty much what we’ve seen from the team so far: uninspired, lacking creativity and constantly missing easy chances (hi, Luis Suárez!). Then again, the optimist in me will look at that first half and see very good signs of what’s to come if Valverde sticks with the plan that worked so well two weeks ago. Barça face one of the best home teams in the league this season in Leganés, and this will definitely be a tough game.

But if that first half against Sevilla happens again, Barça can definitely win this one.


Date/Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 4:15pm (Spain & Nigeria), 3:15pm (UK), 10:15am ET, 7:15am PT (USA), 8:45pm IST (India)

Venue: Estadio Municipal Butarque, Madrid, Spain

Television: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Not Televised (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India)

Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA, Canada, Spain), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)

(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)


There is a crucial Champions League game away to Juventus coming up, but that is on Wednesday night and there’ll be enough time to recover after this one, so Valverde will no doubt go with a very strong side. And why not go with the same team and formation that did so well against Sevilla? That team made sense on paper and played great football for 45 minutes against a tight defense, which is exactly what Barça will face in Leganés.

With the absence of Sergi Roberto, it’s pretty clear that Nélson Semedo should be the starting right-back from now on, and while Aleix Vidal is medically cleared again he’s been playing as a wide midfielder with Valverde and will not threaten Semedo (now watch Vidal starting at right-back because that’s the way Ernie does it). In midfield, Ivan Rakitic seems to be playing well again, and Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta just cannot be dropped.

Up front, the trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Paco Alcácer worked quite well two weeks ago and should probably start together again on Saturday. Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suarez are looking to get into the lineup if Valverde decides to save some players for Juventus, but that probably won’t happen.


Barcelona (4-3-1-2)

Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi; Alcácer, Suárez

Leganés (4-1-4-1)

Cuéllar; Zaldua, Siovas, Muñoz, Rico; Pérez; Amrabat, Eraso, Pires, Szymanowski; Beauvue


This will be really tough, and with an eye on Juventus Barça will probably not be at their best: 2-0 to the Blaugrana.

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