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Preview: Osasuna vs Barcelona – prediction, team news, line-ups

Defending La Liga champions Barcelona head to El Sadar to encounter Osasuna in their final outing before the international break on Sunday evening. 

Osasuna crashed out of the Europa Conference League play-offs to Club Brugge 4-3 on aggregate after relinquishing a two-goal lead in Thursday’s 2-2 draw in Belgium.

Head coach Jagoba Arraste refused to hide his frustration in the aftermath as Los Rojillos squandered a glorious opportunity to feature in a major European competition for the first time in over 15 years.

Missing out on continental qualification could be a blessing in disguise for the Pamplona outfit, given the squad’s shortcomings and a lack of habit of fighting on multiple fronts. 

Battles in various competitions are part of Barcelona’s DNA. But after failing to make it out of the Champions League group stages in the last two seasons, their focus could be on European football.

Xavi Hernandez’s side regained domestic supremacy after four years last term, so defending the crown will be another objective, especially after pulling off two significant transfers towards the end of the summer.

Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix have joined Barcelona on loan deals from Manchester City and Atletico Madrid, respectively, days after Robert Lewandowski inspired the Blaugrana to a 4-3 win at Villarreal.

The arrivals of the Portuguese stars could tilt the scales in Barca’s favour ahead of a season-long title race against Real Madrid and potentially Atletico. 

But Los Merengues remain our best pick for the 2023/24 season, though it’s impossible to discard Xavi’s side despite losing Ousmane Dembele to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

Match Preview

A 2-0 home defeat to Athletic Bilbao on matchday two, sandwiched by a pair of victories at Valencia and Celta Vigo, keeps Osasuna only one point adrift of fourth-placed Barcelona heading into this round. 

However, Arrasate’s side have lost both competitive matches at El Sadar this season, while the last time they started a top-flight campaign with back-to-back home losses, they went on to suffer relegation in 2013/14.

Barcelona’s upcoming visit could stir painful memories, with Los Rojillos losing their last three league encounters against the Catalan powerhouse, two of which via a single-goal margin.

On a more positive note, you need to go back to 2011 for the last time Osasuna lost four consecutive meetings with the Blaugrana in La Liga, a feat they will be desperate to avoid this weekend.

After a stomach-wrenching scoreless draw at Getafe on the opening weekend, the reigning La Liga holders have won both league games, netting precisely two second-half goals on each occasion.

Barcelona’s last four league visits to Osasuna have seen them score precisely twice, although it’s worth mentioning they alternated between winning and drawing in that sequence.

Since a 3-2 defeat in 2012, the Catalans have failed to win back-to-back La Liga outings at El Sadar, which could be an ominous sign, considering they triumphed 2-1 in this corresponding fixture last term.

Xavi’s side have delivered a mixed bag of performance across their last seven league travels (W3, D2, L3), throwing their bid to beat Osasuna twice on the trot away from home for the first time since 2015 into doubt.

Team News

Barring a long-term absentee, Darko Brasanac, Osasuna boss Arrasate has the remainder of his squad ready to face one of the most formidable opponents in Spain.

Barcelona cannot count on Ronald Arajuo and Pedri, but Cancelo and Felix could make their debuts for the new club while Raphinha returns from a two-game ban.

Osasuna potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Sergio Herrera; Jesus Areso, Alejandro Catena, David Garcia, Juan Cruz; Pablo Ibanez, Iker Munoz; Kike Barja, Almar Oroz, Jose Arnaiz; Ruben Garcia. 

Barcelona potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Alejandro Balde; Oriol Romeu, Frenkie de Jong; Raphinha, Ilkay Gundogan, Lamine Yamal; Robert Lewandowski.

We Say: Osasuna 0-2 Barcelona

Osasuna have proved capable of being a thorn in Barcelona’s side at El Sadar. But we expect the visitors’ defensive stability to provide a backbone for a routine triumph.

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