Barcelona will aim to recover from back-to-back losses when they face Osasuna in a La Liga match on Wednesday.
Xavi announced his plan to leave at the end of the season after facing criticism during an inconsistent campaign, as evidenced by Barcelona’s recent results.
After a heavy 4-1 defeat to rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final, Barcelona bounced back with away victories over Unionistas and Real Betis. However, they were halted by a 4-2 defeat after extra time in the Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Club.
Following their quarter-final exit from the cup, Barcelona seemed poised for a win when they fought back from two goals down to take a 3-2 lead over Villarreal. Unfortunately, Villarreal staged a comeback to secure a 5-3 victory, leaving Barcelona in fourth place and 11 points behind league leaders Girona.
Although Xavi’s decision has brought some clarity to his future, he will still face pressure to turn things around, especially with Athletic Club sitting just two points behind them in fifth position.
On Wednesday, Barcelona will have the opportunity to extend their lead over Athletic Club to five points. They will be confident in their ability to defeat Osasuna, as they have won all six of their previous head-to-head encounters, including a 2-0 win in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final.
Osasuna have collected four points from their last two games after defeats to Barcelona and Real Sociedad in the Super Cup and Copa del Rey respectively.
Juan Areso scored an 80th-minute winner in a 3-2 victory over Getafe, while Ante Budimir netted a second-half equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Sevilla.
With seven wins, five draws, and nine losses in 21 La Liga matches, Osasuna currently sits in 12th place. A win on Wednesday would propel them into the top half of the table.
Although securing three points may prove challenging, Osasuna will at least be hopeful of avoiding defeat, having lost just one of their last seven league matches (W3, D3).
However, Osasuna has struggled in their recent away games, drawing two and losing four of their last six since defeating Alaves in October.
If they can break their winless streak away from home, it would mark their first victory over Barcelona since July 2020.
Barcelona La Liga form: L D W W W L
Barcelona form (all competitions): W L W W L L
Osasuna La Liga form: D W L W W D
Osasuna form (all competitions): W W L L W D
Barcelona still has several players sidelined due to injuries, including Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso, and Gavi.
Sergi Roberto and Raphinha are also expected to miss out, while Inigo Martinez is unlikely to be available despite progressing in his recovery from a muscle injury.
Joao Cancelo, on loan from Manchester City, could make his first start since returning from a knee injury after coming on as a substitute against Villarreal.
Xavi might make further changes to the lineup following Saturday’s defeat, with Pau Cubarsi, Ferran Torres, and Pedri pushing for starting positions.
As for Osasuna, Chimy Avila is nearing a return to fitness, but Wednesday’s match will come too soon for the forward.
Areso, who has featured as a substitute in the last two matches, could start and make his 15th league appearance of the season.
Osasuna manager Jagoba Arrasate might consider making a couple more changes to freshen up the squad, with Aimar Oroz and Jose Manuel Arnaiz in contention for starting roles against the reigning La Liga champions.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Kounde, Araujo, Cubarsi, Cancelo;
Pedri, De Jong, Gundogan;
Yamal, Torres, Lewandowski
Osasuna possible starting lineup:
D Garcia, Catena, Cruz;
Areso, Oroz, Munoz, Gomez, Pena;
Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Osasuna
Barcelona may be struggling to find consistency, but they can take confidence from their previous victories over Osasuna this season.
With nine wins in their last ten home matches against Osasuna, Barcelona are likely to continue their strong record by securing a narrow victory in Wednesday’s contest.