Dec 21, 2019 at 3pm UK
Griezmann (14'), Vidal (45'), Messi (69'), Suarez (75' pen.)
FT(HT: 2-0)
Pons (56')

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

:Headline: Preview: Barcelona vs. Alaves - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:383418: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Alaves, including team news and predicted lineups.

Barcelona will be looking to ensure that they finish the year top of La Liga when they welcome Alaves to Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon.

The Spanish champions remain at the head of Spain's top flight on goal difference from Real Madrid, while Alaves sit 14th with 19 points to show for their efforts during the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

Match preview

All things considered, Barca were a touch fortunate to pick up a point against Real Madrid on Wednesday night. The Spanish champions had some excellent chances to secure a vital win, but Los Blancos more than deserved a share of the spoils in the first Clasico of the 2019-20 campaign.

The goalless draw kept Ernesto Valverde's side top of the table on goal difference, meaning that a strong win on Saturday should be enough to see them finish 2019 and indeed enter 2020 at the top of the pile.

That said, Real Madrid could still move above Barca with a heavy win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening, although a relatively hefty swing in terms of goal difference would need to occur for that to be the case.

The Catalan giants have actually already lost the same number of league matches this season (3) than they did in the entirety of last term. Eleven wins have kept them at the summit, though, and they are also comfortably the highest scorers in the division with 43 goals from their first 17 matches.

Barca have been victorious in their last five league meetings with Alaves, meanwhile, but the Basque side incredibly ran out 2-1 winners at Camp Nou in September 2016 on their return to Spain's top flight.

It is difficult to say that Alaves are inexperienced in La Liga when they have competed in 14 full seasons at this level, but the club were absent from Spain's top flight between the 2006-07 and 2015-16 campaigns.

El Glorioso are competing in their fourth straight La Liga season, though, and have finished ninth, 14th and 11th since earning promotion in 2015-16, impressing many with their performances along the way.

Asier Garitano's side are five points clear of the relegation zone heading into this weekend's clash, with a total of 19 points from 14 matches leaving them in 14th.

They won back-to-back matches against Real Valladolid and Eibar either side of the November international break but have collected just one point from their last three matches against Real Madrid, Granada and Leganes.

Alaves have two former Premier League strikers in good form this season, though, with Lucas Perez managing eight in 17 league outings while Joselu has struck seven times in his 16 La Liga appearances during the 2019-20 campaign.

Barcelona La Liga form: WWWWDD
Barcelona form (all competitions): WWWWWD

Alaves La Liga form: LWWLLD
Alaves form (all competitions): WWLLDL

Team News

Ousmane Dembele will again be absent for Barca, while an adductor problem is likely to keep Brazilian midfielder Arthur on the sidelines.

Sergio Busquets was bizarrely pulled out of the starting XI against Real Madrid despite being named in the initial selection, with the midfielder dropping to the bench and ultimately not being used in El Clasico.

It seems likely that the Spaniard will return on Saturday, though, and he could replace Nelson Semedo with Sergi Roberto dropping to right-back.

There are unlikely to be any further changes, though, with Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez continuing in the final third ahead of the winter break.

As for Alaves, experienced midfielder Tomas Pina is out with a fractured leg, but the Basque side have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the contest.

There will be changes from the team that started Tuesday's loss at Real Jaen in the Copa del Rey, though, with Joselu and Perez returning in attack.

Oliver Burke is pushing to keep his spot having been named in the XI against Leganes last weekend, although Luis Rioja is being tipped to get the nod in a wide position for the Basque side.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, De Jong; Griezmann, L Suarez, Messi

Alaves possible starting lineup:
Pacheco; Duarte, Ely, Navarro, Aguirregabiria; Vidal, Pons, Garcia, Rioja; Joselu, Perez

We say: Barcelona 2-0 Alaves

As mentioned above, Alaves know what it takes to pick up a win at Camp Nou, but it is difficult to predict anything other than a home victory this weekend. Valverde is likely to resist the temptation to make changes to ensure that the champions end 2019 with three important points.

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last updated article - 2019-12-21 17:53:10:
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