FC Barcelona (1st, 41pts) vs Getafe CF (16th, 17pts)
Competition/Round: 2022-23 La Liga, Matchday 18
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres (out)
Getafe Outs & Doubts: Mauro Arambarri (out)
Date/Time: Sunday, January 22, 2023, 6.30pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 5.30pm GMT (UK), 12.30pm ET, 9.30am PT (USA), 11pm IST (India)
Venue: Spotify Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Javier Iglesias Villanueva
VAR: César Soto Grado
How to watch on TV: ESPN Deportes (USA), Not Available (Canada), Viaplay Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
Following a dominant win over Third Division Ceuta to advance in the Copa del Rey, Barcelona return to La Liga action as they look to maintain their three-point lead at the top of the table when they welcome struggling Getafe to the Greatest Stadium on Earth on Sunday evening in Catalonia.
This has been a very productive January with a trophy and a few impressive wins that are bringing back the optimism for the Blaugrana’s chances of a successful season, but they need to keep winning and playing well to keep the good vibes going. That’s the job when you play or coach Barcelona: be really good, all the time, and always win.
Xavi Hernández and his troops are aware of that fact and have been more consistent since returning from the World Cup, but one bad performance and result could undo all the progress they’ve been making this month. Xavi under Barça have been prone to a few shocking results at home against teams they should beat comfortably, and that could be the case again this weekend.
Getafe have been struggling for a couple of seasons now and are in the thick of the relegation race, and have only one win in their last five league games. Despite playing most of the games with a back five and a very cautious approach they have one of the worst defenses in the division and an attack that can produce good moments but lacks effectiveness in front of goal.
But they know how to make things tough for Barça and at times have been very frustrating for the Catalans over the last few years. And if they do play a back five as expected on Sunday, they will test an area of concern for this current Barça team. They can be seriously bad at attacking teams with a low block and five at the back, struggling to break down that specific defensive structure and having a whole lot of possession without any meaningful chances.
And not having Robert Lewandowski due to suspension makes it even more complicated since there won’t be a world-class goalscorer who can come up with something special out of nothing. Barça will need intensity, plenty of movement in the final third and not be afraid to play long balls to catch Getafe off guard in the moments when they do press a little higher up the pitch.
It needs to be a complete attacking performance as seen against Real Madrid in the Super Cup final, with quick passing, plenty of runs in behind, good decisions in the final third and brutal efficiency in front of goal. Getafe are nowhere near as good as Madrid but in some ways can be an even tougher team to break down based on the way they’ll set up and Barça’s issues against that setup.
It’s a fascinating game of chess, and an early goal will be crucial to make their job easier. Getafe should be beaten comfortably, but they won’t go down without a fight. Barça need their A-game from the very start, and they need to keep showing the killer instinct from the last couple of matches to get this one over with as soon as they have a chance.
Time to play like leaders and title contenders.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembélé, Fati, Gavi
Getafe (5-3-2): Soria; Suárez, Djené, Duarte, Alderete, Álvarez; Aleña, Algobia, Milla; Ünal, Mayoral
Getafe can be a really tough matchup and will test Barça’s ability to create and sustain attacks if they play a back five, but I still believe Barça will dominate midfield and come up with enough chances and goals to get a comfortable win: 3-1 to the good guys.