Madrid: FC Barcelona aim to bounce back from a disappointing week and put any doubts behind them when they entertain Osasuna in a La Liga match at Camp Nou stadium Saturday night.
Barcelona have had a poor seven days by their usual high standards, allowing Real Sociedad to come back from two goals down last Saturday and then seeing AC Milan score a last minute equalising goal in their Champions League encounter Tuesday.
To prepare for Saturday`s game coach Pep Guardiola took his players to dinner in the village of San Cugat, outside of Barcelona, where they could reflect on their performances away from the press.
The Catalan`s hold their only training session Friday and Guardiola will have to find solutions to the absences of Alexis Sanchez and Andres Iniesta, who are both sidelined with muscle injuries.
Guardiola`s insistence of having pace in his attack to help break down what is likely to be a massed Osasuna defence, could give Ibrahima Affelay his first start of the season, while there will also be changes in midfield and defence.
Carles Puyol returned to action as a second half substitute in midweek, following his knee injury and the Barca captain will start partnering Javier Mascherano in central defence.
That will allow Sergio Busquets to push forward into midfield where he will play alongside Xavi Hernandez and possibly Cesc Fabrigas, with Seydou Keita dropping to the bench.
Pedro Rodriguez and Leonel Messi will lead the attack with the final place to be decided between Affelay and David Villa.
Osasuna have enjoyed a positive start to the campaign, kicking off with a 0-0 draw away to Atletico Madrid and beating Sporting Gijon a week ago. The side from Navarra is without midfielder Javed Nekounam, who has a knee problem, but will look for powerful striker Kike Sola, who scored seven goals in 16 appearances last season to put the Barcelona defence under pressure.
Barcelona have struggled to defend high balls and crosses into their area and that will be on the minds of the Osasuna think tank.
First Published: Friday, September 16, 2011, 22:24