Zaragoza-Barcelona Preview: Jimenez's side desperate for points against Blaugrana
Los Blanquillos are in the thick of the relegation scrap and will hope to pull off a win over the Catalans, who are likely to rest players after their midweek exertions in Europe
By Karthick Arvinth
Zaragoza midfielder Apono has shrugged off a muscle strain and could make his return to action against Barcelona on Sunday.
Helder Postiga and Stefan Babovic should be available despite carrying knocks, but Ivan Obradovic, Franco Zuculini and Javi Alamo are all injured and Abraham is suspended.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is set to be left out of the squad as he continues to manage a hamstring problem.
Defender Adriano suffered an injury in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain and will not feature but goalkeeper Victor Valdes is available after completing a four-match ban.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Zaragoza are on a 14-match winless run in all competitions (D6, L8).
- The Aragonese outfit have not won a Liga match at La Romareda since a 5-3 success over Deportivo La Coruna in November.
- Zaragoza have lost their last nine Liga encounters with Barcelona.
- Barcelona are on a four-match winless run away from home across all competitions.
- The Blaugrana will face German champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final on April 23 and May 1.
- Xavi (pictured, right) completed all of his 96 attempted passes against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, setting a new Champions League record for most passes completed with a perfect success rate.
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Top 3 Predictions
Zaragoza 1-3 Barcelona
- 10.87 %
Zaragoza 0-8 Barcelona
- 9.95 %
Zaragoza 0-3 Barcelona
- 9.89 %
|La Liga (LIGA)||14 Apr 2013||Zaragoza 0 - Barcelona 3|
|La Liga (LIGA)||17 Nov 2012||Barcelona 3 - Zaragoza 1|
|La Liga (LIGA)||7 Apr 2012||Zaragoza 1 - Barcelona 4|
|La Liga (LIGA)||19 Nov 2011||Barcelona 4 - Zaragoza 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||5 Mar 2011||Barcelona 1 - Zaragoza 0|
|12 Apr 2014||Numancia 2 - Zaragoza 2||ESP2|
|6 Apr 2014||Zaragoza 1 - Eibar 0||ESP2|
|30 Mar 2014||Alavés 2 - Zaragoza 2||ESP2|
|23 Mar 2014||Zaragoza 0 - Deportivo La Coruña 1||ESP2|
|16 Mar 2014||Ponferradina 4 - Zaragoza 2||ESP2|
|12||Jonathan Dos Santos||Midfielder|
The 29-year-old midfielder is set to return to the Zaragoza starting line-up after missing the damaging defeat at Deportivo La Coruna with a muscle injury. Apono is Zaragoza's second highest goal scorer in La Liga this season after Helder Postiga and his form will be a key factor in Zaragoza's bid to stave off relegation.
The Spain international is a vital cog in Barcelona's midfield as his tackling and tactical awareness make him the perfect foil for the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. With the Blaugrana defence decimated by injury, Busquets' role will rise further in importance in the build-up to the Champions League semi-final duel with a formidable Bayern Munich side.
Zaragoza have little choice but to be positive and go for an unlikely victory against Barcelona as they look to end a wretched 14-match winless run. This, though, could play right into the hands of the Catalans, who could just carve open the home side's defence on the break.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed