Alaves vs Barcelona Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Barcelona travel to Alaves for their La Liga clash this Tuesday night as they continue to surge towards a second successive title.

The Catalans were bland during their 2-1 victory against Real Sociedad over the weekend, collecting a fortuitous three points courtesy of Clement Lenglet’s towering header and a sharp drive from left-back Jordi Alba. The result maintains their nine point advantage at the top of the table, with closest challengers Atletico Madrid having also won on Saturday.

Clement Lenglet

The hosts drew 2-2 against Valladolid and currently lie in eighth place, with the side still vying for qualification for next year’s Europa League. They were genuine contenders for a top four finish less than a month ago, before a poor run of form ended any such aspirations.

Check out 90min’s preview of the encounter below.


Where to Watch

?When is Kick Off? ?Tuesday 23 April
?What Time is Kick Off? ?20:30 (BST)
?Where is it Played? ?Mendizorrotza Stadium
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?Premier Sports 1
?Referee? ?Javier Alberola Rojas

Team News

?

Wingers Takashi Inui and Burgui are unavailable for Alaves, with the latter not expected back until next season after rupturing his cruciate knee ligament in March. The Japanese international, meanwhile, has a sprained ankle.

The Basque side are also without centre-back Guillermo Maripán who has a similar issue to Inui, both men set to return within the fortnight.

Rafael Alcantara alias Rafinha

Ernesto Valverde is without just one of his first-team squad members, midfielder Rafinha having been missing since November. He is nearing full fitness after the serious knee injury he sustained over the winter, but Tuesday’s clash comes too soon for the Brazilian.

Neither Alaves nor ?Barça have any players suspended for the ?La Liga match-up after ?Gerard Pique and ?Luis Suarez returned for the champions against Sociedad.


Predicted Lineups

?Alaves ?Pacheco; Aguirregabiria, Ely, Laguardia, Marin; Twumasi, Garcia, Pina, Jony; Calleri, Guidetti.
?Barcelona Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Vidal, Arthur; Messi, Coutinho, Suarez.?

Head to Head Record

?

?Lionel Messi put on a masterclass in the reverse fixture back in August, hitting a double as Barcelona ran out 3-0 winners. The Argentine sent out an early warning when he crashed a first-half free-kick off of the crossbar before scoring with his next dead-ball attempt, a low effort sneaking past Fernando Pacheco to break the deadlock just after the hour.

Alaves were fortunate once more when Messi whipped a sumptuous curling shot off of the outside of the post minutes later, but they soon crumbled. Philippe Coutinho hammered a rasping drive home in the closing stages before the five-time Ballon d’Or winner brought the Camp Nou to its feet with a tidy near-post finish.

That success took Barça to double figures in total wins over Tuesday’s opponents, with the league leaders having lost just once to Alaves in their history. The latter have never won a home fixture against La Blaugrana, their sole victory coming at the Camp Nou in late 2016. A single draw – a goalless affair back in 2005 – completes the all-time record.


Recent Form

?

Abelardo Fernández’s recruits are winless in the past month, their last triumph coming in a 3-1 victory away to Huesca. Since then they have lost three and drawn two of their La Liga fixtures, scoring four goals and conceding 11.

By contrast, Barcelona have not lost since late January, Sevilla securing a 2-0 lead in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie. Valverde’s men hit them for six in the return fixture to ease into the next round, no side having overcome them since. They are firmly on course for the treble after dismissing ?Manchester United 4-0 on aggregate in their ?Champions League quarter-final tie and easing past ?Real Madrid in the cup semis.

FBL-LIGA-ESP-REAL MADRID-BARCELONA

The 2-1 win over Sociedad followed up a drab 0-0 away to Huesca the previous weekend, though crucially the Catalans beat rivals ?Atletico Madrid 2-0 in their top of the table clash two weeks ago.

Here’s how the two teams got on in their last five fixtures:

?Alaves Barcelona?
?Alaves 2-2 Valladolid (19/4) ?Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad (20/4)
?Espanyol 2-1 Alaves (13/4) ?Barcelona 3-0 Manchester United (16/4)
?Alaves 1-1 Leganes (07/4) ?Huesca 0-0 Barcelona (13/4)
?Sevilla 2-0 Alaves (04/4) ?Manchester United 0-1 Barcelona (10/4)
?Alaves 0-4 Atletico Madrid (30/3) ?Barcelona 2-0 Atletico Madrid (06/4)

Prediction

?

The midweek meeting with the Red Devils appeared to have taken its toll on Barça as they stumbled to a win over Sociedad in the following game. The usually reliable Suarez was noticeably off of the pace, whilst Messi lacked his usual killer edge.

If they repeat that sub-par performance against Alaves they may well drop points in the title race, though they have a healthy cushion that would allow them to do so without any major repercussions. 


Nevertheless, Valverde will be eager to get the top spot in La Liga secured as early as possible so the side’s focus can switch to matters in Europe and the Copa del Rey. With that being the case, he will demand significant improvement from Saturday’s outing, with Alaves likely to suffer as a consequence.

Prediction: Alaves 0-2 Barcelona

Let’

Philippe Coutinho Explains Meaning Behind His Controversial Celebration Against Man Utd

?Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho has denied that his celebration against Manchester United on Tuesday night was an angry message to his critics.

The Brazilian scored a lovely third goal for the Catalan club as they beat United 3-0 in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final meeting, the result seeing his side through to the next round. After scoring, he proceeded to place his fingers in his ears and stare defiantly at the Camp Nou crowd, a gesture that many interpreted as Coutinho responding to Barça supporters who have been incensed by rumours linking him with a summer exit.

Philippe Coutinho

His celebration against the ?Red Devils was considered disrespectful by some ?Barcelona fans, who hissed at manager Ernesto Valverde’s decision to bring the 26-year-old on during Saturday’s 2-1 La Liga victory over Real Sociedad.

However, Coutinho believes that the situation has arisen out of a misunderstanding from Blaugrana supporters. Speaking after the win over Sociedad, he stated (as quoted by the ?Liverpool Echo): “I have always been someone who respects everybody.

The truth is that this (celebration) was for the people to see that I have to block out the sound in order to focus on a match or on my job so that it won’t affect me,” he explained. “It was like a liberation.”

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-LEICESTER

Though there appears to be a growing rift between Coutinho and followers of the Spanish giants, the playmaker seemed hopeful of helping the club in their ?Champions League semi final tie against his former side ?Liverpool.

Asked about the match-up against his old teammates, Coutinho said: “It will be something special. I am anxious because I know that moment is coming.”

Let’

Ernesto Valverde Insists Phillipe Coutinho Has Fans’ Backing at Barcelona After Recent Controversy

?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has played down suggestions of a rift between midfielder Philippe Coutinho and supporters of the club. 

The 26-year-old has been rumoured to be dissatisfied with life at the Nou Camp after joining from Liverpool for £142m in January 2018, with reports indicating that he is looking to engineer a summer exit. Such speculation appears to have irked some Blaugrana fans, with whistles and jeers greeting Coutinho when he was brought on during Saturday’s narrow 2-1 league victory over Real Sociedad.

FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-MAN UTD

The abuse raining down from the stands followed the ?Barça star’s controversial celebration after scoring against ?Manchester United in the ?Champions League in midweek. After beating David de Gea he proceeded to put his fingers in his ears, a blatant message to his critics at the ?La Liga champions.

However, Valverde has denied that Coutinho’s relationship with the Barcelona fandom has soured. After the match against Sociedad he was asked about the Brazilian’s situation at the club and responded by declaring (as quoted by ?BarcaCentre): “The public is with Coutinho and Coutinho is with the public.”

That defiant statement was all the Spaniard had to say regarding the matter, evidently feeling that no more needed to be added. He swiftly moved on to discussing Barcelona’s win, saying: “Today was a very important game because we still needed nine points to become champions; the points must be achieved. 

The match was uncomfortable for us in the first half because they were playing well, [Clement] Lenglet’s goal gave us peace of mind.”

Lenglet and fellow defender Jordi Alba scored either side of Juanmi’s deft finish, with Coutinho making his appearance off the bench in the dying embers of the contest. The former ?Reds playmaker was largely ineffectual, though he had scarce opportunity to showcase his talents in a short cameo.

Let’

Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Barça Edge Closer to Defending Title

Barcelona maintained their nine-point lead at the top of La Liga, as goals from defenders Jordi Alba and Clement Lenglet earned a 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad.

The hosts appeared weary during the encounter, lacking the intensity and accuracy to pull away from their opponents. Lionel Messi was hesitant and wasteful when attacking Sociedad defenders, whilst Luis Suarez was noticeably leggy and struggled to leave any sizeable impact on proceedings.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-REAL SOCIEDAD

La Real frustrated the champions for large periods, but were undone when Lenglet rose highest to guide a magnificent header into the far corner of the net on 45 minutes. The visitors had almost taken the lead prior to that when Juanmi got in behind the ?Barcelona defence, only to have his weak effort smothered by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Juanmi made up for that miss early into the second half when he latched onto a smart through ball, clipping the ball beyond the sprawling Ter Stegen. Sociedad were level for just two minutes though, Alba rifling a low drive with his right boot past the impressive Gerónimo Rulli.


Barcelona

Key Talking Point

Barcelona looked rather toothless throughout the contest, failing to create too many clear-cut opportunities. That is a concern for Ernesto Valverde as they prepare to take on the ?Premier League’s meanest defence in less than a fortnight’s time.

Barça simply must be better in an attacking capacity if they are to overcome ?Liverpool in their ?Champions League semi-final tie. ?Messi was workmanlike and industrious, but lacked the clinical edge to put the visitors to the sword. Barça have relied upon their Argentine magician in recent weeks and need him to be firing on all cylinders for the test against the Reds.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-REAL SOCIEDAD

He had notched eight times in his last five ?La Liga appearances before Saturday night’s game, demonstrating his importance to the team. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Semedo (6), Pique (5), Lenglet (8*), Alba (6); Vidal (5), Arthur (6), Rakitic (5); Messi (6), Dembele (5), Suarez (6).

Substitutes: Coutinho (5), Busquets (6), Roberto (5).


Star Man

Barça were far from their fluid, flowing best with several stars lacking their usual sharpness. However, two of their key men in defence were superb from the first minute until the last. Ter Stegen’s double save towards the end of the first period maintained parity, but it was Lenglet in front of the German who stole the show.

??


??

??The 23-year-old was composed all game, showing solid distribution, intelligent pass selection and solid reading of platy. He also made several critical interventions to end Sociedad attacks and generally read the play excellently, though was powerless to prevent Real’s goal.. 

His opener moments before the break crowned a fine all-round display from Lenglet, the centre-back grabbing his first La Liga goal. He continues to develop nicely under Valverde’s tutelage, with performances like this cementing his place in the coach’s first-choice backline.


Real Sociedad 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Rulli (8*); Zaldua (5), Llorente (7), Elustondo (6), Munoz (6); Merino (4), Zubeldia (7), Pardo (6); Juanmi (6), Oyarzabal (5), Jose (4).

Substitutes: Sangalli (6).


Looking Ahead

The Catalans travel to eighth-place Alavés on Tuesday with the latter still fighting for a Europa League place for next season. They welcome Levante to the Nou Camp in another league match four days later before the first leg of the clash with Liverpool at the same venue the following Wednesday.

Sociedad entertain Villarreal at Anoeta Stadium on Thursday, with Getafe then making the journey to the Basque country on Sunday.

Let’

Ernesto Valverde Reveals His Biggest Fear Ahead of Barcelona’s CL Semi Final Clash With Liverpool

?Ernesto Valverde has admitted his is fearful of Liverpool’s deadly attacking trio ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League semi final clash against the Reds.

The Spanish giants booked their place in the last four after a convincing 4-0 win over two legs against Manchester United, with the great Lionel Messi putting in another classic performance in the second leg to help see his side through.

Lionel Messi,Philippe Coutinho

The win set up a semi final clash with last year’s runners up ?Liverpool who comfortably overcame Porto in their quarter-final, capped off with a convincing 4-1 win in the second leg at the Estadio do Dragao. The Reds’ attacking trio of ?Sadio Mane, ?Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino all got themselves on the scoresheet, and it clearly sent a message out to ?Barcelona.

Quoted by the Mirror this week, Valverde admitted he is mindful about facing Liverpool’s front three but also insisted his side will do all they can to reach the final, saying: “Liverpool are a very powerful opponent. Offensive players have been showing their potential in the last two years.

Sadio Mane,Virgil van Dijk,Roberto Firmino,Mohamed Salah

“Last year they reached the final. This time they’re having a great tournament. They are also fighting in the Premier League.

“It’s a very attractive game for them, for us and for the public. It will be very hard, for them and for us. The final is just there and we’ll give our best to reach it.”

There is a lot at stake for both teams, with the winner of the tie set to take on either Ajax or Tottenham in the final at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on June 1.

Ernesto Valverde

In the meantime Barcelona are still yet to wrap up the Spanish league title and will be keen to do so as soon as possible to put the distraction out of their minds. 

As for Liverpool, they will have little chance to rest any of their star men ahead of the tie given the title race they currently find themselves in against Manchester City.

Let’