Barcelona, Oct 24 (IANS) FC Barcelona look to confirm the improved form they showed in midweek when they entertain the smallest club in the La Liga, SD Eibar at the Camp Nou Stadium here on Sunday. Eibar travel to Barcelona with 13 points and just one defeat from their first eight matches of the season under Jose Luis Mendilibar, reports Xinhua. Mendilibar has turned the Basque football outfit, which has the smallest budget in the competition, into a tough and compact side that looks to be solid in defence and break at pace.
It is unlikely Eibar will offer the facilities which Rayo Vallecano offered in Barcelona’s 5-2 win here a week ago and, as a result, the game will show whether the Catalan giants have been able to tighten up in defence following that anarchic win. Although the firepower of Neymar and Luis Suarez was the determining factor in that game, Barcelona’s defence was chaotic and were it not for some fine saves from Claudio Bravo the final result could have been very different. With seasoned Argentine Javier Mascherano back in the side, Barcelona gave a far better impression when they won 2-0 away against BATE Borisov in the European Champions League group stage contest on Tuesday. But Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has made it clear that he wants to try and dose the minutes both Mascherano and Sergio Busquets play.
Meanwhile, the pelvic injury suffered by Sergi Roberto in Borisov limits his options in central midfield still further, although that may be eased somewhat by the return from injury of talismanic Andres Iniesta and Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen. The duo can be expected to play some part in Sunday’s game, as will Jeremy Mathieu and possibly Adriano, who offer more defensive options, with the latter even a candidate to play in the middle of the park. Sandro Ramirez and Munir are also both pushing for starts in attack as Barcelona continue without Lionel Messi, who will need another week to get over his knee problems, and Rafinha, who is out for the rest of the season. The game sees the side with the second biggest budget in Spain at home against the team with the smallest. But as football fans know, that is no guarantee of success and Barcelona will have to continue their improvements to avoid an awkward evening at the Camp Nou.