Lionel Messi couldn't rescue Barcelona last week, and they were beaten for the first time this season.
Barcelona’s first defeat of the season couldn’t have come at a better time for Osasuna. Los Rojillos drew with Real Madrid, then hauled themselves off the bottom of La Liga with a victory over fellow strugglers Deportivo de La Coruna. Now they actually go into this game with a longer winning streak than the league leaders.
Let’s get something straight, though. It’s highly unlikely that Osasuna come away with a victory in a fixture they lost 8-0 last year. That said, there’s no better time to play them, so Osasuna may as well go into the game looking to get something out of it.
Barcelona’s defensive frailties were exposed against Real Sociedad, and the hosts were able to claw themselves back from 2-0 down to send La Blaugrana away with nothing.
Barcelona were reduced to 10 men, which obviously helped Sociedad, but that’s not something that Osasuna can rely on. What they can take heart from is that game showed Barca to be vulnerable, and their air of mystique is now reduced.
It’s easy to forget that Osasuna have pulled off the incredible before. In 2009, they left Camp Nou with a 1-0 victory and climbed out of the relegation zone.
However, it’s going to be a mammoth task to get anything like the same result this time around. New loan signing Francisco Silva needs to make an immediate impact, as Osasuna have only managed 16 goals in their 20 games.
Do Osasuna have any chance of points from this fixture?
If they’re going to get anything out of this fixture, it’s going to take a single goal and some incredibly stout defence. Luckily, Los Rojillos have a much better record when it comes to not conceding goals, having shipped just 21 this year.
Barcelona’s defeat last week was a loss of focus, nothing more. Their record this year speaks of dominance, and that’s what they have displayed.
Osasuna are not on the same level, but can still go into this game with some optimism. It took a Lionel Messi-led comeback to beat them in Pamplona last year, and they should adopt the same strategy displayed in that fixture to start this one.
Making a fast start is going to be Osasuna’s best chance at a goal, which they will then need to defend for the rest of the game. Balls into the box have to find their target, and catching Barca off guard in the early stages could give the away side some momentum.
It’s not going to be easy, but Real Sociedad showed that Barcelona are not unbeatable. If there is any sloppiness left over from that game, it will be most evident as the game gets underway.
The league leaders could underestimate Osasuna, which could be their undoing. It remains an incredibly difficult challenge, but if Barca give any help to their opponents they could find themselves on a two-game losing streak.