After registering the first victory of the season, Barcelona are now out to grab three points away from home at Osasuna. The defending champions take on the Segunda Division champions, who are unbeaten in their first two top flight games (one win and one draw) and have not lost a single home league game since April 2018.
Barcelona are likely to continue with the same lineup as against Real Betis with Lionel Messi still unavailable due to injury and not expected back until after the international break.
So, what should the Blaugranes do to grab their first away victory of the season? Let’s have a look:
Dominate right from the start
While the match against Real Betis proved that Barcelona have what it takes to flourish without their top stars, the first half was simply abysmal. Even though the team had the bigger chunk of possession, they were unable to perform as per their usual standards and even fell behind. Although the second half made up for the mess, a solid first half would have been more convincing. Three points are what the Blaugranes desperately need and by starting well, nothing can stop them. Osasuna have not won a single game against Barcelona in the last six encounters and a convincing start to the game will destroy home hopes. Once Barcelona set the rhythm, goals are guaranteed.
Confront Osasuna’s pace and attack down the wings
Nabil Fekir’s goal for Real Betis showed how vulnerable Barcelona are against dispossession, long shots and more importantly, pacy attacks and counters. Osasuna play a 4-2-3-1 where pace plays a very important role. Sergio Busquets cost Barcelona the first goal and even though Sergi Roberto put up a good show in attack, he couldn’t make it up in defending and backtracking, something Arturo Vidal did very often in the few minutes he got to play (and also scored). Backtracking is of paramount importance while defending against a 4-2-3-1 due to their numerical advantage and if the Blaugrana midfield do that, it will scupper Osasuna’s chances of scoring.
Capitalise on Osasuna’s mistakes
While some may argue that the league stats as of now are premature, they do show a picture. Although they are second in aerial duels won per game (32.5), Osasuna have the lowest passing accuracy among the 20 teams (a dismal 63.1%). They have also recorded the lowest shots attempted per game (5) and most yellow cards per game (4) (stats from whoscored.com). This shows that Osasuna are bound to make mistakes and the Blaugranes must capitalise on these weaknesses. It’s imperative for Barcelona to win the first away game of the season but the trip to El Sadar will not be an easy one. Let’s hope that Barcelona win and grab the three points they deserve. Forca Barca!