FC Barcelona face their second trip to the Basque region in the north of Spain in four days when they visit Eibar’s tiny Ipurua Stadium on Sunday night in yet another game they simply cannot afford to lose.
Thursday saw Barca show their more pragmatic side when they ended their 10-year jinx in San Sebastian to take an important 1-0 lead in their King’s Cup quarter-final tie and Sunday is likely to see Luis Enrique adopt a similar approach against Eibar, who always put up a stiff fight.
Andres Iniesta is the main injury problem for Barca with the creative midfielder suffering from a calf injury and the coach will have to decide whether he plays Arda Turan once again in the third attacking role.
Andre Gomez is another player in with a chance of starting following what was arguably his best display in a Barca shirt in the 5-0 home win against Las Palmas last weekend, while every game that Ivan Rakitic starts on the bench only serves to raise doubts over his long-term future at the club
Eibar were also in Cup action during the week, losing 3-0 away to Atletico Madrid in a game where three defensive errors cost them three goals and no doubt coach Jose Luis Mendilibar will have forced home the message that similar errors will be just as costly against Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and company.
Depending on Real Madrid’s result at home to Malaga on Saturday afternoon, Barca will kick off between two and five points behind Real Madrid, while second place Sevilla also start their match ahead of the Catalans, so the pressure will well and truly be on once again for Luis Enrique’s men as they play to either climb the table or to keep in touch with the top two. Enditem