Next Sunday afternoon, FC Barcelona will perform a 600km trip to the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country to measure forces with SD Eibar at the old school Estadio Municipal de Ipurua for Round 28 of the Liga BBVA.
FC Barcelona’s staggering 5-1 win at Vallecas against Rayo Vallecano last Thursday’s night saw them set a Spanish record of no more no less than 35 matches unbeaten. It is fair to say that Luis Enrique might not have had the best of times out there and that they clearly benefited from some dubious judging decisions from young Basque Country born referee Iñaki Vicandi Garrido, who sent off two Rayo Vallecano’s players in just 25 minutes’ time, but one has to admit that Barça are an extremely strong team in every aspect of the game.
With Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez leading the troops, FC Barcelona have scored 18 goals in their last five La Liga matches and won every single one of them. In fact, the last time the Blaugranas dropped some points was on the Catalan derby against RCD Espanyol early in January.
FC Barcelona’s upcoming opponents, SD Eibar, are definitely not going through the best of times as they have only managed to win one of their last five league matches. After a sour home defeat against UD Las Palmas, the Armeros succumbed at the expense of Sevilla FC at Sánchez Pizjuán last time out. José Luis Mendilibar’s men put up a very decent performance at Andalusia last Wednesday and it is fair to say that they deserved at least one point for their effort throughout the entire match.
For next Sunday’s predictably complicated match at Ipurua, Luis Enrique will not be able to rely on the services of Neymar, who is currently suspended. The versatile Brazilian forward collected a last minute yellow card at Vallecas last Thursday’s night and he will miss out there. Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who suffered a leg injury against Rayo, is in doubt for the match.
Last term, FC Barcelona clawed a valuable 2-0 win when they visited Ipurua and, although things have changed significantly since both sides met almost one year ago, the Catalan team are still firm favourites out there. That being said, this might probably be Barça’s strongest line-up for upcoming at Estadio Municipal Ipurua.
Despite having expressed his discontent from having been relegated to the bench on the UEFA Champions League, Claudio Bravo still remains the number 1 at La Liga matches and he will surely be between the sticks against SD Eibar next Sunday.
With the UEFA Champions League second-leg match against Arsenal just around the corner, Luis Enrique might promote some changes in the defence line. Mathieu will probably play alongside Mascherano in the centre of the defence, while Dani Alves and Jordi Alba or maybe Adriano, will assume the right and left back positions respectively.
Luis Enrique will certainly preserve his midfield inverted triangle at Ipurua next Sunday. With Rakitic sidelined due to injury, the Asturian head coach will probably place Sergio Busquets as the defensive midfielder and with a dynamic duo formed by Arda Turan and Sergi Roberto in front of him. Iniesta will probably be given a rest.
With Neymar out of next Sunday’s options, Lionel Messi and Luis Suaréz will probably have the company of Munir El Haddadi up front. The Spanish wonder boy has already taken part in 12 league matches so far this season, contributing with one goal and two assists and he remains a very solid and reliable player for Luis Enrique.