FC Barcelona (3rd, 27pts) vs Deportivo Alavés (14th, 12pts)
Competition/Round: 2023-24 La Liga, Matchday 13
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Gavi, Frenkie de Jong, Sergi Roberto (out)
Alavés Outs & Doubts: Aleksandar Sedlar (out), Carlos Benavídez, Giuliano Simeone (doubt)
Date/Time: Sunday, November 12, 2023, 4.15pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 3.15pm GMT (UK), 10.15am ET, 7.15am PT (USA), 8.45pm IST (India)
Venue: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Montjuïc, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Mateo Busquets Ferrer
VAR: Miguel Ángel Ortiz Arias
How to watch on TV: ESPN Deportes (USA), TSN 5 (Canada), Viaplay Sports 2 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Sports18 (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
Following a disaster display and a horrible defeat away to Shakhtar Donetsk to complicate their Champions League lives, Barcelona look to rebound in domestic action as they welcome Deportivo Alavés to the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium for some Sunday afternoon La Liga fun.
Barça come into this one after a loss in El Clásico, a miracle win away to Real Sociedad despite a terrible performance and a shameful night in Europe. The good vibes and great football of September and early October are long gone, and Xavi Hernández and his players are struggling to find answers and turn the poor form around.
The international break could not come at a better time as it will allow most of the squad to go away with their national teams and refresh their minds to prepare for a massive end to the year once they return to club action in two weeks, and Barça need to make one final push this weekend to go into the break with some semblance of positivity.
To be fair to the team, a bad run of games was to be expected after facing a very tough stretch with a short squad that tested the players physically and mentally, and Barça did manage to play good, competitive football against excellent teams until the last 10 days. With the injury crisis now behind us and a welcome break upon them, we should be confident the team will return to their best form this season once they’re all together again.
But there’s one last job to be done on Sunday, and on paper this should be easier than the last three games. Alavés will fight against relegation all season and will come to Montjuïc looking for a valuable point, but their defense isn’t as strong and the likely strategy of parking the bus may not prove too effective given their tendency to concede goals.
Alavés are in good form, however, with only one loss in their last four in the league and a very impressive 10-0 win on the road in their Copa del Rey debut last week. They have decent talent in midfield and attack, and Kike García is a tall, annoying striker who can cause problems on the counter and set pieces.
Barça are favorites but the form isn’t good, so expecting a beautiful, dominant attacking performance is unfortunately unrealistic. But the Blaugrana should still win with relative ease, and another bad display would be a cause for real concern.
Hopefully Xavi can push the right buttons with his lineup and substitution decisions, and the attacking players need to regain their best form in front of goal against a team that will give them chances to score.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Kounde, Iñigo, Balde; Pedri, Romeu, Fermín; Yamal, Lewandowski, Félix
Alavés (4-2-3-1): Sivera; Gorosabel, Abqar, Marín, López; Blanco, Guevara; Hagi, Guridi, Rioja; García
I would love to see a dominant, spectacular attacking performance and a five-goal win to make everything better. I just can’t see it with the current form, but I still think we’ll win: 2-0 to the good guys.