Dipesh Thapa for La Revista
Quique Setien era begins tonight!
All eyes will be on newly appointed Quique Setien’s Barcelona as they are set to go head to head against tenth-placed Granada side as LaLiga returns at the Camp Nou tonight @ 1:45 NST.
After a two-week pause, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla look to settle their stops at the domestic flight after returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia for the all-new Spanish Super Copa. The unusual travel didn’t go as per expectations for Barcelona, changing the scenario their face-off against Granada. With Real Madrid claiming their hard-fought tie against Sevilla yesterday, Barcelona will be under the pressure of sealing this fixture to stay at the top.
Barcelona lost to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals, ultimately resulting in Ernesto Valverde’s sacking with a bit of Xavi Hernandez’s return saga in the middle. Quique Setien, the former Real Betis coach, was appointed the following day, amidst the building tensions between Valverde and the board following the unprofessional approach that the board made to Xavi.
The arrival of Quique Setien, a coach who believes in the continuation of Johan Cruyff’s Total Football philosophy, has suddenly filled the fans with an aura of excitement and anticipation of what stands next under Setien.
Setien has continuously shown his admiration for the Blaugrana, leading the trust process, and the fixture on Sunday transcribes to the continuation of the same excitement, yet a start to a brand new journey.
In meantime, Granada will be traveling to Camp Nou hoping to repeat the previous scoreline, where they outclassed Valverde’s Barca by a scoreline of 2-0. While it is certain that their approach to the game will be defensive, they will in fact be looking to ruin the party for Barca provided that they have a 100% record in maintaining their lead this season.
Setien won’t have three vital players available for his debut as Barcelona boss. Regular striker Luis Suarez will be missing out following a recent knee- surgery, while Ousmane Dembele is still out with his hamstring still causing problems. The absence of Dembele and Suarez means Ansu Fati along with several Barca B players with the likes of Perez and Abel Ruiz might get a peak or even start under Setien.
Frenkie De Jong is suspended for the fixture following a red card in the 2-2 draw against Espanyol before traveling to Saudi Arabia.
However, the good news is that Ter Stegen and Arthur Melo have returned from their injuries and have attended the latest training sessions with the remaining squad. Also, the man of the moment, the hyped young midfielder Riqui Puig might get some minutes as he has been training with the first team after Setien’s arrival.
Granada will arrive at Camp Nou missing five players from their regular squad: Neyder Lozano, Quini, Yangel Herrera and Fede Vico due to injuries. Ángel Montoro, meanwhile, serves a one-match suspension.
These absences will most probably force Diego Martinez to change the formation. So, who will be assisting the experienced forward Roberto Soldado in the final third is left to be seen.
Possible line ups:
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Puig; Messi, Griezmann, Fati
Granada (3-4-3): Silva; Sanchez, Duarte, Martinez; Diaz, Herrera, Gonalons, Neva; Puertas, Soldado, Machis
Barça manager Quique Setién: “I don’t want us to be over-excited. I’d rather see the team putting into practice what we’ve been working on this week, although these aren’t things that’ll happen overnight … Granada will want to repeat their performance earlier in the season. And they might play just as well. I always tell my teams to expect their opponents to be at their very best.”
Granada manager Diego Martínez: “Every coach has his ideas but Barça need no introduction. They’re one of the best teams in the world and although [Setién] might change some positions and vary a few things, the essence is always going to be the same.”