Barcelona travel to Eibar on Saturday as La Liga football returns, with Ernesto Valverde's men looking to climb to the top of the table, at least temporarily with Real Madrid taking on Real Mallorca later in the day.
La Blaugrana have made a slow start to the new campaign, having already lost twice. As a result, they find themselves sat in second place in the table, two points adrift of Madrid.
Eibar, meanwhile, have made a fairly indifferent start to the season, currently sitting in 14th place. Having picked up nine points from their opening eight matches, they find themselves sat two points above the relegation zone.
With Barcelona looking to move back to the top of the table and Eibar looking to move further clear of the relegation spaces, the upcoming match is a crucial one for both sides.
Here's is 90min's preview of Saturday's clash.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 19 October|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||12:00 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Ipurua Municipal Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Premier Sports 1|
|Referee?||Mario Melero Lopez|
Eibar are likely to be without their captain Ivan Ramis, while Rober Correa is also out as he continues to recover from an injury to his left ankle. This means manager José Luis Mendilibar will have to arrange a somewhat makeshift defence for the upcoming match. Gonzalo Escalante is also out after seeing red in the draw with Real Betis.
The international break has aided Valverde and Barça, with his injured squad members having a two-week period to continue their rehabilitation. As a result, they could well be injury-free for this weekend's clash with Eibar for the first time this season.
Samuel Umtiti has stepped up his recovery from a foot injury and is back training with the squad. This is particularly good news as Gerard Pique is suspended for the upcoming fixture due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Elsewhere, Carles Perez and Junior Firpo have both returned to training, but it is not yet known whether Valverde will risk either. However, Ronald Araujo and Ousmane Dembele
|Eibar||Dimitrovic; De Blasis, Oliveira, Arbilla, Bigas; Exposito, Diop, Alvarez; Orellana, Inui, Kike|
|Barcelona||Ter Stegen; Roberto, Lenglet, Todibo, Alba; Busquets, De Jong, Arthur; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann|
Head to Head Record
The two sides have come up against each other on ten occasions, but history is not on Eibar's side. Barcelona have won nine of these ten games, while Eibar have only managed to claim one draw.
However, this draw came in the last clash between the two back on the final day of last season. A certain Lionel Messi bagged two goals on that occasion for La Blaugrana, but Marc Cucurella and Pablo de Blasis helped ensure that the hosts earned themselves a memorable point.
Eibar find themselves sat in 14th place in the table at this moment in time, having won of their matches, drawn three times and lost on three occasions, as well. This tally of nine points sees them hovering above the relegation spaces, but Mendilibar's men were in a good run of form prior to the international break.
Barça, meanwhile, are beginning to find their feet this term, having made a slow start to the campaign. Having lost two matches already, Valverde's side find themselves sat two points behind table-toppers Real Madrid, however, they can move above them with a win at Eibar on Saturday. Prior to the international break, they stormed to a comfortable 4-0 over Sevilla, and they'll be hoping to pick up where they left off.
Here's how the two sides have performed in their last five matches.
|Real Betis 1-1 Eibar (4/10)||Barcelona 4-0 Sevilla (6/10)|
|Eibar 2-0 Celta Vigo (29/9)||Barcelona 2-1 Inter (2/10)|
|Eibar 3-2 Sevilla (26/9)||Getafe 0-2 Barcelona (28/9)|
|Levante 0-0 Eibar (21/9)||Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal (24/9)|
|Eibar 1-2 Espanyol (15/9)||Granada 2-0 Barcelona (21/9)|
Eibar have the third-best defensive record in La Liga and they will certainly look to frustrate Valverde's men and take their chances when they come up.
Barça will be hoping to put in a strong showing as they look to send a message to their title rivals. While Eibar will be stubborn in their defending and will pose a threat on the counter, Valverde's men should win this one fairly comfortably.
Prediction: Eibar 1-3 Barcelona