FC Barcelona are in a desperate cry for a consistent regimen of standout performances and find themselves with a great opportunity to light that fire. They take on Granada CF this Sunday, 19th place in La Liga and are battling against relegation, this is the optimal time for Barça to gain momentum of strong performances ahead of their Champions League match against Napoli later in February.
As it stands, Barça find themselves 11 points off the top position, with Real Madrid dismantling 2nd place Girona in a 4-0 demolition at the Bernabéu on Saturday. Coming off a relatively adequate performance vs Alavés, there's plenty to build on in their next matches starting with Granada who in all reality have had a dreadful La Liga campaign.
Granada has amassed a total of a mere 2 wins all season, painting a clear picture of their evident struggles. They currently average 1.0 goals per match which is 15th league-wide, and concede an average of 2.0 goals per match which is 19th in La Liga. With such frailties in attack and defense, Barcelona should be expecting to showcase a dominant performance at the Estadi Olímpic.
The last meeting between the sides was back on October 8, when both teams walked away with a point each in a 2-2 draw. Bryan Zaragoza tormented the Barça backline that night with 2 goals coming in transition. With Zaragoza on loan at Bayern Munich, Granada will certainly look to Myrto Uzuni who has 6 goals this season, to pull off a miracle win against the Catalan giants.
Barça is in for a bandage to cover the bleeding of injured players before Sunday's matchup. Coach Xavi Hernández announced Saturday that both Marc-André Ter Stegen and Raphinha will be returning to action following an extended month-plus long period of absence due to injuries.
Despite this, the absence of the young Brazilian sensation Vitor Roque due to his red card against Alavés is a crucial blow. He's scored in his last 2 games coming from the bench, giving the Blaugrana a much-needed mobile striker running in behind defenses. Adding salt to the wound, João Félix and Ferran Torres remain sidelined with injuries, thinning the attacking depth, all of which could potentially work to the benefit of Raphinha who looks to remind Xavi of what he's capable of.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Cancelo, Koundé, Araujo, Cubarsí, Christensen, Gündoğan, de Jong, Pedri, Yamal, Lewandowski
Granada: Batalla, Sanchez, Mendez, Maouassa, Neva, Hongla, Pellistri, Melendo, Ruiz, Uzuni, Arezo
The pressure of winning the La Liga title is quite firmly gone with the uphill battle they climb to catch Real Madrid, Barcelona is in a tender position from which they can still rebuild from within. The news of head coach Xavi Hernández leaving Barcelona in the summer essentially means a free reign from where they can develop.
This match against Granada is a perfect time for the Blaugrana to finally return to playing good football for a full 90-minute match. Given the terrible state of Granada in recent matches, Barça should be wrapping this game up with multiple goals and rewarding the fans with something to look forward to.