19:00 Saturday: Sky Sports
After a 0-2 defeat to Getafe in their opening game, Osasuna now face a visit to the Nou Camp to play the Champions, Barcelona. Both sides are desperate to improve upon their start to the season with Osasuna looking for their first point whilst Barcelona will be seeking a more convincing defensive display than in their last match. In spite of their 2-3 win at Celta Vigo, Barcelona received plenty of criticism in the Spanish press and the champions are looking less than invincible at the moment.
Ahead of this weekends clash, Getafe’s goalkeeper, Ricardo Lopez insists that he will be going to the Camp Nou determined “to enjoy the experience”.
The player made a similar comment last season ahead of the match that provoked an angry response from his manager, Javier Aguirre, who said “You want to go to the Nou Camp to enjoy yourself? Are you mad?”
The former Osasuna manager added “Forget about that, if we wanted to enjoy ourselves we’d go to a bar!”
Osasuna lost the match 3-0.
Ricardo remains unperturbed, however, and told the press yesterday “You have to go to these stadiums and enjoy yourself. The matches in at the Camp Nou and the Bernabeu are the ones that stand out in the fixture list and we go there with a desire to do well and surprise Barcelona. Why not?”
“It’s a game between two great teams, we proved that last season with them winning the league and us finishing fourth. It’s all up for grabs this year”
However, Ricardo acknowledges the size of the task ahead “it’s always difficult at the Camp Nou because they are very strong at home. We’ve got to do everything we can to stop their players and give them a shock. It’s not going to be easy”
Osasuna will have been given hope by Barcelona’s recent defensive frailties and their recent defeat to Sevilla has shown that by applying pressure on Barcelona’s midfield, the talented forward line of the Champions can be nullified. It will be interesting to see if Xavi is returned to the Barcelona midfield in place of Iniesta. Xavi was dropped in the last match against Celta Vigo after being marked out of the game against Sevilla and it is going to take a while for the midfielder to regain his form after missing the whole of last season through injury.
Osasuna, meanwhile, can take some heart from the fact that they did not play badly in their defeat to Getafe and it is fair to say that Cuco Ziganda’s side were a little unfortunate to be denied on several occasions by the outstanding Getafe keeper.
The team from Pamplona have since made a last minute re-enforcement in signing Juanfran from Real Madrid. The Spanish Under-21 international spent last season on loan at Espanyol and Real have insisted on inserting a buy-back option into the deal.
Osasuna will also be relieved to have kept hold of winger Ludovic Delporte during the transfer window and the player will be one to watch at the Camp nou. Fans of Spanish football should also keep an eye open for Raul Garcia as well. The Osasuna player may be only 20 years old but is rapidly becoming the complete midfielder and is most definitely ‘one for the future’.
The big news is that Ronaldinho is back for Barcelona, Gio and Belletti, it would appear, dropped.
Barcelona squad :
Valdés, Jorquera, Puyol, Márquez, Oleguer, Zambrotta, Thuram, Sylvinho, Edmílson, Xavi, Motta, Iniesta, Deco, Giuly, Messi, Ronaldinho, Eto''o and Gudjohnsen.
Osasuna are looking very likely to line up with:
Ricardo; Javier Flaño, Cuéllar, Josetxo, Corrales; David López, Muñoz or Nekounam, Puñal, Delporte; Raúl García y Soldado.
Milosevic is likely to be rested ahead of a busy week.