FC Barcelona (1st, 36pts) vs Deportivo Alavés (14th, 19pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2019-20 La Liga, Matchday 18
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Arthur, Ousmane Dembélé, Ansu Fati (out)
Alavés Outs & Doubts: Tomás Pina (out)
Date/Time: Saturday, December 21, 2019, 4pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 3pm GMT (UK), 10am ET, 7am PT (USA), 8.30pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Mario Melero López
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (UK & India), others
How to stream: FuboTV (USA), beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Premier Player (UK), Facebook Live (India), Movistar+ (Spain), others
Following a disappointing 0-0 draw in El Clásico against Real Madrid in midweek, Barcelona return to action in La Liga for the final match of 2019, at home against Deportivo Alavés. The Blaugrana still lead the league thanks to goal difference after catching up with the rest of the table, but they’re now officially tied for first with Madrid and have to keep winning until Real drop points so they can have solo possession of the top spot.
Barça have dominated Madrid recently so watching them struggle for 90 minutes at home was a real bummer. Many players performed below their usual level, and their task this weekend is to prove what happened in the Clásico was a fluke and a result of the importance of the match more than anything else.
Barça will face the second worst away defense in the league and a team rapidly falling in the standings after a strong start to the season. Alavés can be dangerous on the counter and Lucas Pérez has been solid as the main goal threat, but this isn’t a team capable of truly hurting the Blaugrana at the Greatest Stadium on Earth. This must be a statement win and anything short of that will be a source of concern ahead of 2020.
Good teams dominate bad ones. Do it Saturday, Barça. Prove that you’re good.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Rakitic, De Jong; Messi, Suárez, Griezmann
Alavés (4-3-3): Pacheco; Navarro, Ely, Laguardia, Duarte; Pere Pons, Manu García, Wakaso; Aleix Vidal, Pérez, Burke
I can’t see anything but a big win against a very poor defense to respond to a flat Clásico performance: 5-1 Barça, GOAT-trick.