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Cules worldwide will remember that foggy encounter last season. It was the Reyno de Navarra hosting Barcelona who had well and truly hit their best form yet, the match started with Barcelona dominating as Samuel Eto’o scored right on the brink of half time. However, after the first interval, disaster struck. Miguel Flaño struck gold in the 62nd minute with a looping header before Pandiani did the unthinkable and put Osasuna into the lead with a mere 18 minutes left in the match.
Not to worry though, in the 79th minute Xavi put his body on the line to – whilst injuring himself in the process – score the equalizer, before, despite the marking, the conditions and the forever expiring time left, Lionel Messi unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards into the top right hand corner to give Barcelona a flabbergasting 3-2 win.
The tables have now been turned on the fixture, seeing it progress into a new season.
Osasuna will tonight play host to the in-form Barcelona who last week quashed all rumours suggesting a ‘crisis’ may have been lingering among the dressing rooms by destroying a hapless Real Zaragoza 6-1.
The Reyno de Navarra awaits Barca and they will be well aware of the danger that this stadium presents to any visitors, they will also be alert of the fact that Osasuna’s form of late has been soundly keeping them alive in the top half of the table with ‘Los Rojillos’ losing only 1 of their last 6 fixtures as well as a promising 3-0 victory over disastrous Atletico Madrid.
Thierry Henry has been officially declared fit to play and has been named in the squad to travel Pamplona although it is unlikely he will be thrust immediately back into the fray and it is expected that Iniesta will start out wide giving Keita the chance to play in a more attacking midfielder role as he did in his hat-trick performance against Zaragoza last week whilst Brazilian Dani Alves is still out.
Predicted Starting XI, Osasuna: Ricardo – Monreal – Josetxo – Miguel Flano – Azpilicueta – Camunas – Nekounam – Punal – Juanfran – Aranda – Pandiani
Predicted Starting XI, Barcelona: Valdes – Puyol – Marquez – Pique – Abidal – Xavi – Toure – Keita – Messi – Ibrahimovic – Iniesta
Currently Osasuna’s leading goalscorer with 6 goals, just one behind Barcelona’s own Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Uruguayan has been in dazzling form of late and has netted in his last two encounters with Barcelona, expect him firing up front on the counter-attack for Osasuna.
Scoring against this discipline Osasuna defence will be one thing, but unlocking it is a whole different dimension. When it comes to breaking through brick walls there’s only one man for the job and expect that man to do his job well.
A game in the Reyno de Navarra is always a fixture that is difficult to initially comprehend and the games between Osasuna and Barcelona are often ones to remember. The game will start seemingly open, with both teams sharing chances however as the match wears on those first team players who took part in Osasuna’s Copa del Rey tie against Xerez will begin to tire leaving holes in the defence which Messi and co. will pounce all over.
Osasuna 0 – 3 Barcelona