Barcelona host La Liga strugglers Elche in the Spanish top flight on Saturday afternoon.
The Catalan behemoths suffered their first defeat of the campaign in midweek, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich despite creating a host of chances in the Allianz Arena which left manager Xavi Hernandez “fuming”.
Elche operate in a different realm entirely. With just two goals and one point to their name this term, only Cadiz – who Barcelona swept aside 4-0 last weekend – have endured a worse start to the Spanish season.
Here’s everything you need to know about the meeting between these contrasting clubs.
Barcelona: 5 Wins
Elche: 0 Wins
Xavi is expected to have a full complement of players to select from for the return to domestic duties. The 42-year-old coach shuffled his pack for the trip to Cadiz last weekend and may not overload his first-choice XI with a busy pre-World Cup calendar to manage.
That could mean the likes of Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Gavi and Raphinha have to settle for a place on the bench.
Barcelona Starting 11: Ter Stegen; Bellerin, Araujo, Garcia, Balde; Kessie, De Jong, Pedri; Dembele, Lewandowski, Torres.
Bench: Pena, Raphinha, Gavi, Fati, Christensen, Pique, Alonso, Alba, Kounde.
Gerard Gumbau was forced off with a hamstring problem during Elche’s 4-1 surrender at home to Athletic Club last weekend. Club captain Gonzalo Verdu has been out since the first week of May and isn’t expected to have recovered from a groin problem by Saturday.
Elche Starting 11: Badia; Lirola, Roco, Bigas, N Fernandez; Collado, Mascarell, Quina, Milla; Boye, Ponce.
Bench: Werner, F Fernandez, Pastore, Guti, Fidel, Josan, Marti, Clerc, Donald.
Barcelona may have emerged empty-handed from the midweek meeting with their bogey team Bayern Munich. However, the Blaugrana represent historically unfavourable foes for Elche.
The Alicante outfit has never recorded a victory against Barcelona in the Catalan capital. In fact, Elche have scored just four goals at Camp Nou since 1969. Both of those dire records may be extended this weekend.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 Elche