Barcelona vs. Osasuna: La Liga Preview, Team News, Projected Barca Starting XI

Dan FitchFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2013

MALAGA, SPAIN - JANUARY 24:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goalduring the Copa del Rey Quarter Final 2nd leg match between Malaga CF and FC Barcelona at La Rosaleda Stadium on January 24, 2013 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Having lost to Real Sociedad last week, Barcelona will be eager to get back to winning ways, which is bad news for this week's opponents, Osasuna. 

The defeat was Barcelona's first of an incredible league season, in which they've won 18 of their 20 games, to give themselves a comfortable eight-point gap at the top of the table.

Barcelona have, of course, already picked up a Copa del Rey victory since losing to Sociedad, as they beat Malaga 4-2 Thursday night, in a thrilling quarterfinal second leg.

Pedro, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi were all on the scoresheet as Barcelona progressed to meet Real Madrid in the semifinal. 

In contrast, Osasuna are in the relegation zone and fighting for their lives. They at least come into this daunting fixture in some kind of form, having drawn with Real Madrid and then beaten fellow strugglers Deportivo in their last two games. 

Osasuna's players are certainly in need of a confidence boost when it comes to playing Barcelona. Last season they lost this fixture, 8-0.


Osasuna Team News

Jose Luis Mendilibar doesn't have too many injuries to contend with. His left-winger Sisi is out for the season with a knee injury, while the midfielder Roberto Torres is also unavailable.


Barcelona Team News

Barcelona have a full squad to pick from against Osasuna, aside from the long-term absentee, Eric Abidal.

After the game against Malaga, it's likely that some changes will be made. Victor Valdes will return in goal, while Carles Puyol will probably replace Javier Mascherano in defence.

Cesc Fabregas has played a lot of football lately and could be rested to give David Villa a start, after he recently returned from a calf injury.


Predicted Barcelona XI


Match Prediction

Despite Osasuna's recent 0-0 draw with Real Madrid, it's impossible to look beyond a Barcelona victory at the Camp Nou.

However, it is very unlikely that there will be a repeat of the eight-goal display Barca put on last season. Osasuna have only conceded 21 goals in La Liga (two less than Barcelona), with only Malaga, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid conceding less.

So with Osasuna likely to be sitting back and hoping to shut Barcelona out, our prediction is a 2-0 home win.