Granada CF (7th, 24pts) vs FC Barcelona (4th, 31pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2020-21 La Liga, Matchday 18
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Clément Lenglet, Ansu Fati, Gerard Piqué, Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto (out)
Granada Outs & Doubts: Neyder Lozano, Luis Milla (out), Víctor Díaz (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, January 9, 2021, 6.30pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 5.30pm GMT (UK), 12.30pm ET, 9.30am PT (USA), 11pm IST (India)
Venue: Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes, Granada, Spain
Referee: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea
VAR: Valentín Pizarro Gómez
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others
Following an impressive win away to Athletic Bilbao in midweek, Barcelona return to action in La Liga with what promises to be another tough road game against Granada on Saturday.
For the first time this season, Barça performed well against a good team on the road. This simply hasn’t been a good Blaugrana side in games that matter, but they provided enough reason for hope with their performance on Wednesday to believe they can be competitive this season.
Ronald Koeman seems to have found his best starting eleven plus two or three other regulars, and the coach has also discovered that as long as Lionel Messi and Pedri are on the pitch together, there’s a really good chance that magic will happen.
The two have developed an incredible chemistry together for such a recent partnership. Messi seems to have a new best friend on the pitch, and when Leo starts to really look for a guy operating in the same wavelength with enough talent and improvisation to match his genius, special things begin to happen.
Messi has had this sort of relationship with very few players throughout his time at Barça: Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Dani Alves, Luis Suárez, and Neymar. That’s the list, and the fact Pedri is beginning to reach those levels of telepathy with Messi is truly impressive for such a young player coming into a tough situation with a club still in disarray.
The Messi-Pedri partnership will be tested this weekend against a Granada side that’s been solid all season and especially tough to beat at home, with a bold, attacking team that’s also capable of parking the bus and hurting opponents on the counter. This is the type of game that promises loads of chances for both sides, and it’ll come down to clinical finishing and enough key plays on defense to decide the winner.
This should be a lot of fun, and three points would make it 20 out of the last 24 for Barça. That would be championship level form, and another big performance would give more confidence to a side that maybe, just maybe, is starting to come together.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Mingueza, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembélé, Messi, Griezmann
Granada (4-3-3): Silva; Foulquier, Duarte, Sánchez, Neva; Herrera, Gonalons, Eteki; Puertas, Soldado, Suárez
Granada have won two of the last five against Barça at home, and this is a really good team when they’ve played in their stadium this season. But Pedri: 4-2 Barça.