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Three things Barcelona need to do against Eibar

The champions are back in La Liga action

FC Barcelona v Real Betis Balompie - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

After a gloomy defeat against Levante in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, Barcelona host Eibar at home in a league match that can consolidate top spot in La Liga.

Eibar sit 13th in the table and have drawn four consecutive league matches, including a nightmare 4-4 draw against Levante. They went 4-2 up but conceded twice, courtesy of an own goal and a stoppage time leveller.

Barcelona have won all eight league games against Eibar, scoring 28 and conceding a mere four in the process.

Here’s a look at three things Barcelona should do to win against Eibar:

Bring back the A team

FC Barcelona v RC Celta de Vigo - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

There was a time when Ernesto Valverde was criticised for playing the same XI in almost every fixture with the likes of Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Pique, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets featuring consistently, thus hampering any chance of other players and La Masia graduates featuring. The scenario has changed this season with many starlets getting chances and Carles Alena being promoted to the senior side. But things have gone south lately with a dismal performance from the fringe players in the Copa fixture, so it’s time for Valverde to stick with his best players: Messi and Suarez to spearhead, Busquets and Rakitic in the centre, Pique and Alba manning the defence and Ter Stegen as the number one. Philippe Coutinho and Denis Suarez should also be under consideration as they deserve more first-team chances. Luis Suarez has scored in each of his last five league games against Eibar (amassing seven goals in the process) and Leo Messi has scored more goals against Eibar than any other player in Liga (12 in seven appearances). So Valverde must depend on his regular guys for this one.

Rely less on long balls

Cultural Leonesa v FC Barcelona - Spanish Copa del Rey Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Eibar are strong in the air and make the most out of long balls and set pieces. They are adept at scoring from set pieces, press well and are strong on the counter which makes it apparent that they are not a side to be experimented with. They are second in the league in terms of accurate long balls per game (around 42) and also happen to be the most potent team in an aerial situation, with around 26 aerial duals won per game which is the highest in the league.

But they also happen to be the side with the most inaccurate short passes (around 70 per game) and also make around 16 unsuccessful touches per game. Barcelona must rely on short passing and their usual eloquent passing style and make less use of long balls. If things go as planned, Eibar will choke, paving the way for the Blaugranes to take full advantage.

Curb shooting opportunities and be careful in dangerous areas

SD Eibar v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Eibar have recorded around 16 shots per game, second to only Real Madrid in the league. Around 71% of shots recorded have come from the middle, which means that the central defence should always be ready for blocking shots.

Also, Eibar are the team which has scored the most through penalties in the league (5). Thus, playing risky in our own penalty box must be avoided at all costs. If Barcelona stop their opponents from creating shooting opportunities and avoid fouling in dangerous areas, the game can be in their favour.

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