Granada CF (13th, 23pts) vs FC Barcelona (5th, 31pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 20
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Frenkie De Jong, Ronald Araujo, Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto, Ferran Torrres, Yusuf Demir (out), Memphis Depay, Pedri, Clément Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti (doubt)
Granada Outs & Doubts: Neyder Lozano, Santiago Arias, Germán Sánchez, Rubén Rochina, Alberto Soro (out)
Date/Time: Saturday, January 8, 2022, 6.30pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 5.30pm GMT (UK), 12.30pm ET, 9.30am PT (USA), 11pm IST (India)
Venue: Los Cármenes, Granada, Spain
Referee: Pablo González Fuertes
VAR: César Soto Grado
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 3 (Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a hard-fought win over Linares to advance in the Copa del Rey, Barcelona return to action for their third game in seven days as they travel to beautiful Andalusia to face Granada at Los Cármenes.
Even though the performance at Linares left a bit to be desired, Barça were still missing 15 players on Wednesday and just winning with all of those absences is a big deal. Xavi will still be without a high number of first team members on Saturday but the Covid positives are slowly but surely coming back, and most of the injured players will also be available very soon.
The Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Real Madrid is next week and there’s always a temptation to look ahead to El Clásico, but the Granada game truly is all that matters right now. Qualifying for the Champions League is the main goal for the season, and there is a good chance Barça could finish in the Top 4 this weekend if they take all three points.
But it won’t be easy. Granada away has always been a very tough game for Barça, and the home team is in great form having not lost in their last six in the league, an unbeaten streak which includes a big-time win over Atlético Madrid two weeks ago. They’ve been relatively safe from Covid-19 so far, they are well-coached by former Barça assistant Robert Moreno and they are deadly on the counter.
Their style matches up well with Barça’s possession game, so they will offer a threat all night long. The Blaugrana can’t afford any silly mistakes on the ball and must take their chances against a solid defense. Don’t let Granada’s position fool you: they are a good team capable of beating anyone, especially at home. This will be tough, but three points are vital.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Eric, Alba; Nico, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, L. De Jong, Jutglà
Granada (4-4-2): Maximiano; Quini, Duarte, Torrente, Neva; Puertas, Milla, Gonalons, Machís; Molina, Suárez
I never enjoy being confident ahead of a trip to Granada, but I like our chances even with their current form: 3-1 to the good guys.