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FC Barcelona will look to recapture their winning form against Osasuna in a must-win La Liga tie at Camp Nou on Sunday.
A four-game streak of impressive victories was broken on Thursday, when visitors Galatasaray held Barca to a 0-0 draw in a Europa League last 16 clash which also saw the Turks become the first outfit to keep Xavi Hernandez’s men scoreless in 93 days.
The local press reported that the first team coach scolded his charges at half time for their drop in intensity, and the club legend is weary of a foe who despite their 11th placed standing are La Liga’s sixth best team on the road.
“Osasuna can adapt to different systems, a four or five man defence. They press or sit back, use the wings, go for it direct, they have a lot of resources. It won’t be easy because they are intense and aggressive and don’t let in many goals. And they’ll be more confident after beating Villarreal,” the 42-year-old noted at his prematch press conference on Saturday.
“I’m not thinking about Galatasaray,” Xavi stressed. “We dropped points at El Sadar, [when Barca drew 2-2 to Osasuna in December]. I can’t afford to think any further than that.”
“We do need to change things after Galatasaray, but we have to realise their goalkeeper (Barca’s Inaki Peña out on loan) was exceptional. But I have solutions for when we play teams that shut up shop at the back,” Xavi claimed.
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Losing fourth place to reigning champions Atletico Madrid this weekend, the Blaugrana have two games in hand on Diego Simeone’s men including today’s fixture and an April 24 date with Rayo Vallecano who beat them in late October and sealed Ronald Koeman’s departure before Xavi was brought in.
Barca need to win not just to move back up the table in a more comfortable Champions League qualification spot, but also boost morale ahead of a season-defining week which takes in the second leg against Galatasary on Thursday and next Sunday’s installment of El Clasico with Real Madrid which will give this side a true measure of where they stand amid recent reasons for optimism.
Leading the way in Barca’s last home game for a full three weeks until they take on second-place Sevilla on April 3 is Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal supported by a back line of Jordi Alba, Eric Garcia, Gerard Pique and Dani Alves.
In midfield, captain Sergio Busquets provides pivot support to Gavi and Frenkie de Jong while the front line is formed by Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore.