Having claimed their first piece of silverware for the season, Barcelona will aspire to keep their dreams of La Liga glory alive when they welcome Getafe to Camp Nou on Thursday night.
La Blaugrana thrashed Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final, while Getafe managed to take a point from a goalless stalemate with Real Madrid.
In order to keep Lionel Messi on the books for the new season, Barcelona supposedly have to prove to the Argentine that they are capable of conquering Europe once again, but a Super League may not be what the six-time Ballon d’Or winner had in mind.
Off-the-pitch controversy aside, Ronald Koeman’s men did their talking for 90 minutes on the field against Athletic as they stormed to a 4-0 win in the final of this season’s Copa del Rey, with Messi bagging a brace while Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong netted in a 12-minute flurry of goals.
Copa del Rey titles are bread and butter for Messi at this point, and the 33-year-old played his part in six consecutive league victories for the Blaugrana before their El Clasico battle with Real Madrid, who furthered their own title ambitions at the expense of Barcelona’s with a 2-1 derby win on April 10.
With Atletico and Real Madrid also managing to return to winning ways, fourth-placed Barcelona are now five points adrift of Zinedine Zidane’s side in the race for glory – although the Blaugrana do have two games in hand – and they must keep an eye on Sevilla, who moved up to third in midweek.
However, Barcelona and their league-high 69 goals have strung together a 12-game unbeaten league run on home soil – winning five of their last six – but Getafe command plenty of respect after their resilient showing against Los Blancos.
Had it not been for an inspired showing from Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal, Getafe could have easily taken all three points on another day, but they were ultimately forced to settle for just the one against the champions in a 0-0 draw last time out.
The result comes only a month after Jose Bordalas’s side managed to hold Atletico Madrid to a stalemate by the same scoreline, and while they have now failed to win any of their last five La Liga matches, four of them have ended with the spoils shared.
A mid-table finish is realistically the best outcome that Getafe can pine for at this point, but they are by no means guaranteed another season in the big time as they sit just four points clear of the dropzone in 15th, and a shock win at Camp Nou would not propel them any higher up the table.
Bordalas has only overseen one win in his last 13 games in charge of Getafe – a 3-0 success against Valencia on February 27 – and his goal-shy attackers have struck just 22 goals in the league this season, which is the joint-fewest alongside basement side Eibar, and they have only scored once in their last five fruitless away games.
However, Getafe produced the goods in a surprise 1-0 win over Barcelona earlier in the season, but they have never managed to do the double over the Catalan giants and are winless in 15 at Camp Nou – losing 11 of them.
Aside from long-term absentees Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho – as well as doubtful backup goalkeeper Neto – Barcelona are well-stocked at a crucial time in the season, and Koeman may be tempted to rotate before the weekend’s visit of Villarreal.
Gerard Pique forced his way back into the team for the Copa del Rey final, but Ronald Araujo may be given the nod in Koeman’s back three alongside Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza given the quick turnaround in fixtures.
Messi’s 23 league goals is more than the entire Getafe team combined, and he will likely form a strike partnership with Griezmann once again, meaning another substitute appearance for Ousmane Dembele after contract talks reportedly hit a roadblock.
Martin Braithwaite has since sustained an ankle sprain, but he was never likely to start here.
Getafe right-back Allan Nyom picked up his tenth booking of the league season against Real Madrid and is therefore suspended for this match, so Damien Suarez is the most likely candidate to fill the void in defence.
Carles Alena earned plenty of plaudits for his showing at the weekend and will be eyeing a repeat performance against his parent club, but Cucho Hernandez and Erick Cabaco continue to recuperate from injuries.
Alena starting would restrict Japanese starlet Takefusa Kubo to a spot on the bench once again, and it would be a surprise to see Bordalas make many alterations from the side that gave Real a good run for their money.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Araujo, Lenglet, Mingueza; Dest, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Messi, Griezmann
Getafe possible starting lineup:
Soria; Suarez, Djene, Timor, Olivera; Alena, Arambarri, Maksimovic, Cucurella; Unal, Mata