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Jan 23, 2022 at 8pm UK at Mendizorroza, Vitoria, Basque Country
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de Jong (87')

Preview: Alaves vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Alaves vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Alaves and Barcelona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Barcelona will be looking to bounce back from successive defeats in two separate competitions when they resume their La Liga campaign away to struggling Alaves on Sunday night.

The Catalan giants are currently sixth in the La Liga table, one point behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, while Alaves occupy 18th spot, three points behind 17th-placed Mallorca.

Match preview

Alaves changed their manager at the end of December, with Jose Luis Mendilibar replacing Javier Calleja at the helm, and the 60-year-old has recorded two draws and one defeat from his three matches in charge.

El Glorioso were knocked out of the Copa del Rey in the middle of December, so each of their last five matches have been in La Liga, picking up just two points during that run, holding Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao at home before suffering a 4-0 loss at Real Betis on January 18.

A record of four wins, five draws and 12 defeats from 21 matches has brought them 17 points, which is only enough for 18th position in the table, three points from the safety of 17th position.

Alaves are bidding to secure a sixth straight campaign in the top flight, but they have finished 16th in each of their last two seasons and will seemingly face a battle to avoid being relegated back to the Segunda.

Barcelona, meanwhile, will enter this weekend's contest off the back of a 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night, with the Basque side winning it in extra-time courtesy of a penalty from Iker Muniain, with the holders being dumped out of the competition.

Xavi's side also lost 3-2 to Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup on January 8, while they were held to a 1-1 draw by Granada in their last league game on January 8.

Barcelona are currently sixth in La Liga, one point behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, and it would be a huge surprise to see them finish outside of the top four, even considering their problems this season.

The Catalan outfit need to start finding a run of consistent form in the league, though, as they have not managed to win back-to-back fixtures in Spain's top flight since the end of November.

Blaugrana are entering a huge period of the season, taking on Atletico and Espanyol in their opening two league games of February, before hosting Italian giants Napoli in the Europa League on February 17.

Alaves La Liga form:
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L

Alaves form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L

Barcelona La Liga form:
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Barcelona form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L

Team News

Alaves will be without the services of Ruben Duarte and Ximo Navarro through injury, but the home side are otherwise in good shape heading into this weekend's contest.

Head coach Mendilibar will make changes from the side that started against Betis last time out, with Florian Lejeune back from a suspension to boost the defence, while Manu Garcia should return in midfield.

Miguel de la Fuente could also be in line for a spot alongside Joselu in the final third of the field, with Edgar Mendez potentially dropping down to the bench for the home side.

As for Barcelona, Samuel Umtiti, Eric Garcia and Sergi Roberto are again definitely absent, while Memphis Depay remains a doubt due to muscular overload.

Ansu Fati left the field in tears against Athletic on Thursday, having seemingly suffered an injury relapse, and the Spain international is now set to spend another period on the sidelines.

Gavi, meanwhile, is suspended due to his red card against Granada in the league, and Ousmane Dembele is unlikely to be involved following the recent fall-out.

Xavi is expected to recall Frenkie de Jong and Luuk de Jong back into his starting XI, while Ferran Jutgla could be in line for a spot in the front three due to a lack of options, although there is a chance that there could be a switch to a midfield four, with Nico Gonzalez potentially in line for a recall.

Alaves possible starting lineup:
Pacheco; Aguirregabiria, Miazga, Lejeune, Lopez; Jason, Moya, Garcia, Rioja; De La Fuente, Joselu

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Pique, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, F de Jong; Torres, L de Jong, Jutgla

We say: Alaves 1-2 Barcelona

This is a huge game for Barcelona, and there is no downplaying the importance of the contest for the Catalan outfit, who desperately need a win to boost their confidence. Alaves could make it a very tricky affair, but we are expecting the away side to emerge victorious due to their superior quality.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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