Barcelona vs. Eibar: Team News, Preview, Live Stream and TV Info

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2017

LAS PALMAS, SPAIN - MAY 14: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates after scoring the first goal of the game during the La Liga match between UD Las Palmas and Barcelona at Estadio de Gran Canaria on May 14, 2017 in Las Palmas, Spain. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Barcelona must beat Eibar at the Camp Nou on Sunday to keep their slender hopes of a La Liga title alive.

The defending champions will be preparing for the prospect of losing their crown to their biggest rivals, though. That's because Real Madrid, after their 4-1 win over Celta Vigo on Wednesday, need just one point from their trip to Malaga to get over the line.

Still, stranger things have happened in Spanish football down the years, and given the south-coast club beat Barcelona at La Rosaleda earlier in 2016-17, they do have the pedigree for an upset. Those in Catalonia will hope so, anyway.

Here are the key broadcast details for what promises to be a fascinating encounter, the team news for each side and a preview of how this fixture will play out.

     

Date: Sunday, May 21

Time: 7 p.m. (BST)/2 p.m. (ET)

TV Info: Sky Sports (U.K.), beIN Sports (U.S.)

Live Stream: Sky Go (U.K.), beIN Sports Connect (U.S.)

    

Team News

Barcelona: Manager Luis Enrique has a potential injury crisis to deal with in defence, with Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu and Aleix Vidal set to sit this one out. In more positive news for the coach, Gerard Pique returned to training this week after missing the win over Las Palmas due to illness.

Likely XI: Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar

Eibar: Jose Luis Mendilibar will be without Fran Rico, who has been missing since February with a knee problem, and Antonio Luna, who has been out since April. Nano has a hamstring issue and is also set to miss the trip to the Camp Nou.

Likely XI: Asier Riesgo; Ander Capa, Alejandro Galvez, Florian Lejeune, David Junca; Dani Garcia, Gonzalo Escalente; Pedro Leon, Adrian Gonzalez, Takashi Inui; Sergi Enrich

Team news courtesy of Transfermarkt

     

Preview

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates with Neymar and Luis Suarez after scoring his team's 3rd goal from the penalty spot during of the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF at Camp Nou stadium on May 6, 2017 i
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

After their memorable 3-2 win over Real Madrid in the Clasico, Barcelona supporters would have been waiting for another slip from Los Blancos during the run-in. But Zinedine Zidane's side have shown a tremendous determination to preserve the advantage at the summit.

It's why, on the cusp of this showdown with Eibar, there's a feeling among the Blaugrana supporters that this title is already sewn up for Madrid. While there are flaws in the squad Zidane has assembled, they're very difficult to defeat.

The post-mortem into an unsuccessful title defence has already begun on social media, too. Sports journalist Rafael Hernandez believes mismanagement of the team has ultimately been key to the Blaugrana coming up short:

Indeed, Barcelona have not fully capitalised on the splendid form showcased by Messi this season; the Blaugrana No. 10 has been an irresistible force at times.

With the midfield balance lacking at the Camp Nou, the 29-year-old has had to drop into deeper positions on occasion, piecing together Barcelona's attacks and regularly getting on the end of chances himself. A haul of 35 goals is testament to his potency in the final third.

Messi has been sensational this season.
Messi has been sensational this season.fotopress/Getty Images

Messi has nine assists, too. Per Squawka Football, he's the most consistent provider of clear chances in European football:

Eibar have the potential to dig in and make things frustrating for their illustrious hosts, although there have been some signs in recent weeks the effects of a long season are beginning to take a toll.

Mendilibar would have been disappointed with his side's performance in a 1-0 home loss to Sporting Gijon in their previous outing. Still, if they can consolidate eighth place with a strong performance here, it'll be another season of immense progress for Eibar.

Eibar have performed above expectations this term.
Eibar have performed above expectations this term.JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images

Barcelona will be the big favourites to come through this game with three points, though. At home, they've been in fine form lately, and in Messi, Neymar—who scored a brilliant hat-trick against Las Palmas in midweek—and Suarez, they will simply have too much firepower for their opponents.

All eyes will be on La Rosaleda to see if Malaga can do the Catalan giants an unlikely favour. But come the end of the day, it would be a massive surprise if Barcelona remained the La Liga champions.

Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Eibar

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