MX23RW : Thursday, July 29 01:22:58| >> :120:8684:8684:
Apr 23, 2019 at 8.30pm UK at Estadio de Mendizorroza (Vitoria-Gasteiz)
Attendance: 18,735
FT(HT: 0-0)
Alena (54'), Suarez (60' pen.)

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

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the La Liga fixture between Alaves and Barcelona.

Barcelona face Alaves at the Mendizorrotza Stadium looking to further strengthen their grip of top spot in the La Liga standings.

Alaves play host to the league leaders with the desire to end a five-match winless streak which has led to the club dropping down to eighth position.


Alaves manager Abelardo pictured in September 2018© Reuters

Alaves had been challenging for a place in next season's Champions League before the start of the last international break, but boss Abelardo Fernandez now faces a big task in trying to ensure that the club's campaign does not peter out in the closing weeks.

A run of 12 points from six matches has been followed by no victory in five attempts, and Alaves have now not kept a clean sheet in their last eight games.

El Glorioso still have to play some of the teams around them in the table, but Abelardo will be aware that his side cannot afford a heavy defeat heading into matches of a high magnitude.

There will be a satisfaction that the club remain on course to comfortably build on their 14th position from last year, but neither Abelardo nor his squad will want to end the season out of form.

Their biggest recent disappointment is letting slip two leads in home encounters with Leganes and Real Valladolid, opposition who sit in 12th and 18th place respectively in the standings.

The opportunity was there to put daylight between themselves and a number of teams who are also hoping to finish in seventh spot, but Alaves are now under pressure to earn something from one of their meetings with Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.

The main positive for Alaves is that Jonathan Calleri and John Guidetti have started to get themselves on the scoresheet on a regular basis, and that run must continue over the coming weeks.

Alaves are big underdogs to earn anything from the fixture on Tuesday night, but Abelardo will at least demand that his side are more resolute at the back to give their supporters hope heading into their final four contests.

Recent form: WLLDLD


Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde pictured on November 24, 2018© Reuters

Barcelona have ambitions to complete the treble this season, and that may lead to Ernesto Valverde tinkering with his starting lineup ahead of the club's upcoming hectic schedule.

However, Valverde will also be keen to successfully wrap up the defence of their league crown at the earliest opportunity with just two victories required to see off the challenge of Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona have not had it all their own way on the domestic scene in recent weeks, but the Catalan giants have still been able to extend their unbeaten record in Spain's top flight to 21 matches.

Valverde's rotation has contributed to draws at each of Villarreal and Huesca, but Barcelona were still below their best when a strong team was named for Saturday's clash with Real Sociedad.

Barcelona needed to rely on goals from Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba, and it further highlighted that Valverde's men still need to improve if they are to end their wait for another Champions League crown.

There is naturally a reliance on Lionel Messi due to his 43 goals in this season's La Liga and European football's premier competition, but the Argentine requires more assistance from his attack-minded teammates.

Luis Suarez has failed to contribute a goal or assist from his last three outings in all competitions, while supporters continue to demand more from Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

Tuesday's game could provide an opportunity for that trio to rediscover their best form, and Valverde will want his team to put themselves in a position where they could potentially claim the title against Levante at the weekend.

Recent form: WWDWDW
Recent form (all competitions) DWWDWW

Team News

Philippe Coutinho in action for Barcelona on March 9, 2019© Reuters

Valverde is likely to make changes to his starting lineup, and that could lead to a recall for Coutinho.

Sergio Busquets should also come back into the team after dropping down to the bench at the weekend, while Sergi Roberto and Malcom may be handed roles in the first XI.

Gerard Pique, Ivan Rakitic and Messi could be named among the replacements with next week's showdown with Liverpool in mind, while Dembele may also feature on the bench.

Abelardo may name the same team which began the game against Valladolid, but Burgui remains on the sidelines through injury.

Alaves possible starting lineup:
Pacheco; Aguirregabiria; Ely, Maripan, Marin; Inui, Garcia, Pina, Jony; Guidetti, Calleri

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Umtiti, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Arthur; Coutinho, Suarez, Malcom

Head To Head

Barcelona head into this week's game having put together a five-match winning streak against Alaves, with 16 goals being netted since February 2017.

Alaves last had success against the Catalan giants when they registered a surprise 2-1 win at Camp Nou in September 2016.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Alaves 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona may not name their strongest XI for Tuesday's fixture, but they should still ease to victory. Alaves are struggling at the back, and facing a motivated Barcelona side has come at the wrong time.

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Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho runs away from Manchester United's Chris Smalling in the Champions League on April 10, 2019
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United StatesUnited States1011930
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Thursday's key events

· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
1Athletic Bilbao00000000
2Atletico MadridAtletico00000000
5Celta Vigo00000000
14Rayo Vallecano00000000
15Real Betis00000000
16Real Madrid00000000
17Real Sociedad00000000

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