Sports Mole brings you the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Barcelona’s trip to Huesca in La Liga.
Barca beat second-placed Atletico Madrid last weekend to open up an 11-point lead at the summit, while Huesca sit bottom of the table, six points behind 17th-placed Real Valladolid heading into Week 32.
Huesca finished second in the Segunda Division last term to earn a spot in the top flight for the first time. They were actually playing Segunda B football as recently as 2015 but are now in the big time.
All things considered, Huesca deserve huge praise for their form this season. It is going to be tough to escape the bottom three, but just six points separate them from 17th-placed Valladolid and are therefore still in with a chance of avoiding relegation back to the second tier.
Five wins, nine draws and 17 defeats – that is how Huesca have performed in La Liga this term. Only Levante (56) have conceded more times than Francisco‘s side (55) this term, which is an indication of their problems heading into the business end of the campaign.
Huesca actually beat Sevilla on home soil early last month, while they will bring a two-match unbeaten run into the Barca fixture having drawn their last two against Celta Vigo and Levante. It is a big ask for them to overcome Barca this weekend, but they have a huge game away to Rayo Vallecano next weekend.
Huesca will then face Eibar and Villarreal in their final two games of the month, before taking in Valencia, Real Betis and Leganes in their final three league fixtures of the 2018-19 campaign.
This weekend will bring just the second ever La Liga meeting between Huesca and Barca. In the reverse match at Camp Nou, the home side recorded an 8-2 win, while the Catalan giants ran out 4-0 winners when they travelled to Huesca in the Copa del Rey during the 2014-15 campaign.
In Ezequiel Avila, though, Huesca have an attacker who has managed eight La Liga goals this season. Francisco’s side also ran Real Madrid close at the Bernabeu on March 31 and will be hoping to capitalise with Barca having more than one eye on next week’s Champions League clash with Manchester United.
Recent form: WLLLDD
The return match at Camp Nou will take place next week and therefore head coach Ernesto Valverde is expected to make a number of changes to his starting XI this weekend.
Valverde has earned that luxury with Barca dominant in Spain’s top flight this season. Indeed, the Catalan giants – 2-0 winners over second-placed Atletico last weekend – are currently 11 points clear at the top of the division, having won 22, drawn seven and lost just two of their 31 league matches this term.
Barca are comfortably the highest scorers in La Liga this season with 81 goals and only a miracle will prevent the Spanish giants from retaining the title. Valverde’s side will play another four times in the league this month, starting with Huesca before facing Real Sociedad, Alaves and Levante.
The fact that Barca are so comfortable in the league means that they will be able to concentrate on the Champions League, but United played well against the Catalan side on Wednesday night and are certainly not out of the quarter-final with at least another 90 minutes of football to come.
The Spanish champions will face Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey next month, meanwhile, as they attempt to land a treble this season. Barca have the best away record in the league this term having gathered 34 points from their 15 away fixtures, suffering just one defeat in the process.
It would be a huge shock if they did not collect another three points this weekend, but there is no question that the club would take a defeat this weekend if it meant overcoming Man United at Camp Nou on Tuesday night to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, where either Liverpool or Porto will be waiting.
Recent form: WWWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW
Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique are both suspended, meanwhile, meaning that the XI will have a very different look to the one that lined up against Atletico and indeed against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side.
Rafinha, though, remains a long-term absentee for the Spanish champions following knee surgery.
Huesca possible starting lineup:
Santamaria; Miramon. Mantovani, Dieguez, Galan; Herrera, Rivera, Gomez; Avila, Gallego, Hernandez
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Roberto, Lenglet, Umtiti, Alba; Alena, Arthur, Vidal; Coutinho, Dembele, Malcom
Head To Head
As mentioned, Barca recorded an 8-2 win in the first ever La Liga meeting between the two teams earlier this season.
These two sides also met in the Copa del Rey during the 2014-15 campaign, with Barca running out 12-1 winners on aggregate, following a 4-0 away success with an 8-1 victory on home soil.
We say: Huesca 1-2 Barcelona
Barca will have more than one eye on next week’s second leg with Man United, but it is difficult to back against the league leaders this weekend, regardless of the team that is sent onto the field. We fancy Huesca to put on a brave fight but to ultimately suffer a home defeat.