Barcelona will be looking to build on their impressive win over Juventus in the Champions League when they travel to Alaves at 8pm on Saturday.
Alaves XI: Pacheco; Méndez, Navarro, Laguardia, Lejeune, Duarte; Jota, Battaglia, Pina, Rioja; Deyverson.
Barcelona XI: Neto; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, De Jong; Dembele, Griezmann, Fati; Messi.
Where to watch Alaves vs Barcelona on TV:
- UK: LaLigaTV
- US: beIN SPORTS
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Alaves vs Barcelona build-up, pre-match team news & previous line-ups:
Ronald Koeman’s side bounced back well from their disappointing 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid in El Clasico last weekend, beating Juve 2-0 in Turin on Wednesday.
Barca are desperate for another win, sitting 12th in La Liga with just two victories from their first five games, though the teams above them have played more games. They have lost their last two league games and are in danger of losing three in a row for the first time since April 2016 under Luis Enrique.
The away side’s need for points is heightened by the situation off the pitch, following president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s dramatic resignation this week.
Their poor start is highlighted by the fact Barca are level on points with Saturday’s opponent, Alaves, who are 15th in La Liga, with seven points from seven games so far.
- Alaves (vs Real Valladolid): Pacheco; Navarro, Laguardia, Lejeune, Duarte; Mendez, Pina, Battaglia, Jota; Perez, Joselu.
- Barcelona (vs Juventus): Neto; Roberto, Araujo*, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Pjanic; Dembele, Pedri, Messi; Griezmann.
Alaves beat bottom side Real Valladolid 2-0 last time out and therefore manager Pablo Machin may well keep faith with the same side this time out.
That means Lucas Perez and Joselu are likely to lead the line, despite Borja Sainz’s late goal against Valladolid, 53 seconds after coming off the bench. Only Pedro Pons and Rodrigo Ely are missing for the hosts.
Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo is set to miss this one after picking up a thigh injury in the win over Juventus. The centre-back will be replaced by Gerard Pique, who can return after being suspended for the Juve match.
Sergio Busquets, who came on to replace Araujo against Juve, could come into the midfield, while there is competition for places in attack. Pedri was once again impressive against Juve and Ousmane Dembele scored the opening goal, but someone will have to make way for Ansu Fati, who was on the bench on Wednesday.
It could therefore be Antoine Griezmann who misses out, with the Frenchman still yet to get off the mark for Barca this season.
Players to watch:
- Alaves: Barcelona have won their last seven La Liga games against Alaves, but if they can get the first goal there is a glimmer of hope for the hosts. Barca have conceded the first goal of the game three times already this season and are winless in all of them. Alaves’ best hope of doing so lies with former Newcastle striker Joselu. The 30-year-old striker has attempted 11 shots this season, more than any other Alaves player, and if he puts his 6ft 4in frame to good use he could pose a threat to the away team’s defence.
- Barcelona: While Barcelona were impressive all across the pitch against a lacklustre Juventus in midweek, the eye of most observers will have been drawn to Pedri. The 17-year-old attacking midfielder was supremely confident on the ball, with his play in possession belying his youth and relative inexperience. Lionel Messi naturally remains the focal point for Koeman’s side, but the performances of Pedri and fellow 17-year-old Ansu Fati are reassuring fans that there is life beyond the Argentine genius.