FC Barcelona (9th, 15pts) vs Deportivo Alavés (16th, 9pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 12
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Frenkie De Jong, Pedri, Ronald Araujo, Martin Braithwaite (out), Ousmane Dembélé, Sergi Roberto (doubt)
Alavés Outs & Doubts: Fernando Pacheco (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 30, 2021, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Jorge Figueroa Vázquez
VAR: César Soto Grado
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 1 (Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a depressing loss to Rayo Vallecano that resulted in the sacking of Ronald Koeman, Barcelona begin a new era this Saturday as they welcome struggling Alavés to the Greatest Stadium on Earth for a crucial La Liga match.
The worst-kept secret in football right now is that Xavi Hernández will be the next Barça manager, but until the club legend returns home it will be up to Barça B coach Sergi Barjuan to take charge of the first team for the next couple of matches. Barjuan has done a solid job with the B team so far this season, and he brings an idea of playing that is a lot closer to the Barça DNA than what we saw most of the time under Koeman.
Unfortunately for Barjuan he will be without a few key players for this one, with Ansu Fati and Frenkie De Jong expected to miss the match to be as close to full fitness as possible for the massive Champions League game away to Dynamo Kiev in midweek. Other players are also ruled out due to injury or dealing with a few knocks, so figuring out a team for Saturday will be a challenge for the interim boss.
But we’ll at least see a 4-3-3 formation and a desire to play attack-minded football against one of the worst teams in the league, which was somehow not the previous manager’s idea for 15 months. Enough about Koeman, however. A new era begins on Saturday before another new era begins after the international break, and the hope is for a good start with a good performance and a win — and maybe a few goals.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Dest, Piqué, García, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, Coutinho; Demir, Agüero, Memphis
Alavés (4-5-1): Sivera; Navarro, Laguardia, Lejeune, Duarte; Pellistri, Pons, Ndiaye, Moya, Rioja; Joselu
This is more hope than prediction, to be quite honest: 3-0 Barça and an exciting performance.