Preview: La Liga Week Four. Leganés v Barcelona

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 13: Luis Suarez of Barcelona celebretes scoring his sides sixth goal with team mates during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between FC Barcelona and Celtic FC at Camp Nou on September 13, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

If the Alavés game was a misstep, and the Celtic game a masterpiece, Luis Enrique and the rest of the squad will be hoping that tomorrow’s match at Leganés falls somewhere in between.

Approaching the third of seven games over the course of 23 days, Enrique is standing by his rotational tactics and said that there will be changes from the sides that started against Alavés and Celtic.

“The type of comparisons [between lineups] don’t make sense. Get behind the players. It’s not like we have a J team, a H team or a Z team, we have a squad. All the players are Barça players… We are on a cycle of seven games […] we obviously have to plan for [team selections] and make decisions as we go,” he said in a press conference earlier today.

The team broke tradition and traveled a day early, instead of the morning of the match, to accommodate an early start (13:00 CET) at Leganés, just south of Madrid.

Leganés is in the midst of their first ever campaign in the primera división, meaning it’s also their first league matchup against Barça. They’re not wholly unconnected, however – Samuel Eto’o played some of his earliest matches there on loan from Real Madrid.

They’ve had a decent start in the top flight, winning their opening game and holding Atlético to a scoreless draw at the Calderón before falling to Sporting de Gijón last week.

Barça will be well aware that their last league game was a home loss to another newly promoted side, and even after the excellent Champions League performance midweek, they’re nowhere near guaranteed anything from tomorrow’s 90 minutes.

Eighteen members of the first team traveled today, with Busquets, Digne, Masip, and Vidal remaining in Barcelona. (Busquet’s omission guarantees that there will be changes from the eleven who started against Celtic). Like the game against Alavés, Barcelona is about to face off against a side who were strong in the second division last season, and have come into the top flight ready and willing to earn their place. They had the best attacking record of any team in the segunda last year, and did not concede against either Celta or Atlético.

Breakdown:

Barça:

Last Match: 7-0 versus Celtic, UEFA Champions League

Goals: Messi (3), Suárez (2), Neymar, Iniesta

Lineup: Ter Stegen, Umtiti, Piqué, Alba, Roberto, Busquets (Rafinha 61′), Gomes, Rakitić (Iniesta 45′), Suárez, Neymar Messi

Leganés:

Last Match: 1-2 versus Sporting, La Liga

Goals: Diego Rico. Nacho Cases, Duje Cop, (Sporting)

Lineup: Serantes, Insúa, Rico, Mantovani, Marín (Ramos 45′), Díaz Miguel, Alberto, Timor (Koné 75′), Lopez, Gabriel, Guerrero (Machis 65′)

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  • Steven Rogers

    I am always nervous when Busquets does not play. I know he has to rest, but it always worries me when he’s not on the field. Hoping it works…

  • Victor Gusila

    Leganes are certainly no cowards. Unfortunately for them, we have Messi, Neymar and Suarez.

  • Eivind Niclasen

    Rayo Vallecano are gone from Spain´s top flight, but their place seems to have been filled by another small club from Madrid. Plus, Paco Jemez is now at Granada, so one less bus parking team compared to a typical season in Spain. Perhaps even two less, after Jorge Sampaoli took over at Sevilla.