Barca’s week from hell continues as Xavi announces departure.
The week has been a turbulent one for Barcelona, who have been reeling from the shock announcement that coach Xavi Hernandez will be leaving the club in the summer. The legendary former Barca midfielder cited “the terrible wear and tear” of the job as the reason for his decision, and it comes at a time when the team is in poor form.
After back-to-back defeats, Barca have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey and are 11 points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid, putting their title defence in serious jeopardy. Barca have not lost three consecutive matches since April 2016, so a reaction is needed, and it is absolutely essential if they are to keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive, with Athletic Bilbao breathing down their necks.
And with Barca having lost three of their last six home league matches (W3), Osasuna will be feeling confident heading to Catalonia. The “Rojillos” have struggled in this fixture in recent years, losing each of their last three La Liga visits without scoring, and they have already lost to Barca twice this season, including in the Super Cup earlier this month.
However, with just one defeat in their last seven league matches (W3, D3), Jagoba Arrasate’s men are in better form than their hosts. Osasuna sit in mid-table, in between the top six and the bottom three, and any hopes of avoiding a season of mediocrity will depend on an improvement away from home, where they have not won in six league matches (D2, L4).
Players to watch
Robert Lewandowski scored the opener for Barca in their 2-0 Super Cup win over Osasuna, and he also scored the winner in the league fixture. However, he could be in trouble with the referee after picking up three yellow cards and a red card in three league matches. Ante Budimir could be the X-factor for Osasuna, as he has scored the equaliser for the visitors in four of their last five league matches.
It has taken Barca until the 75th minute to score the first goal in four league matches, the most in La Liga.