Barcelona - Malaga Preview: Pellegrini's side aim to keep Champions League bid on track
Los Boquerones will be looking to consolidate their hold on the final qualification berth for Europe's elite club competition when they make the daunting trip to Camp Nou
By Karthick Arvinth
Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano
Thiago, Busquets, Iniesta
Fabregas, Messi, Pedro
Gamez, Demichelis, Weligton, Eliseu
Joaquin, Cazorla, Fernandez
Javier Mascherano is a minor doubt for Wednesday's Primera Division encounter with Malaga, after the Argentine picked up a leg injury towards the end of Barcelona's 7-0 win at Rayo Vallecano.
Xavi and Gerard Pique are still out, so Thiago Alcantara is likely to retain his place in the starting XI, while Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas may earn recalls.
Jose Manuel Pinto looks set to continue in goal after boss Pep Guardiola opted to start the reserve goalkeeper at the weekend to give him some match experience ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.
Malaga midfielder Enzo Maresca will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury sustained in Sunday's win over Valencia.
Left-back Nacho Monreal is a doubt with a groin strain, while Jeremy Toulalan, Joris Mathijsen, Willy Caballero and Julio Baptista are all sidelined. Midfielder Isco serves a one-match ban.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona's 7-0 thumping of Rayo Vallecano on Sunday was the biggest away victory recorded by a Primera Division side this season.
- The Catalans have scored 177 goals in all competitions this term, 25 more than in the whole of last season.
- Lionel Messi's 43 Liga goals this campaign means both he and Cristiano Ronaldo (also 43) have surpassed the Real Madrid forward's league record of 40 set last season.
- Malaga have won just two of their last 10 away matches in La Liga.
- Los Boquerones have lost their last seven meetings with Barcelona by an aggregate score of 25-5.
- Malaga have suffered defeats on their last nine visits to Barca. Their last victory at Camp Nou came way back in November 1999.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 5-0 Malaga
- 13.21 %
FC Barcelona 8-0 Malaga
- 8.08 %
FC Barcelona 3-1 Malaga
- 7.66 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Aug 25, 2013||Malaga 0 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Jun 1, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Malaga 1|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Jan 24, 2013||Malaga 2 - FC Barcelona 4|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Jan 16, 2013||FC Barcelona 2 - Malaga 2|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Jan 13, 2013||Malaga 1 - FC Barcelona 3|
|Dec 11, 2013||FC Barcelona 6 - Celtic 1||UCL|
|Dec 6, 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - FC Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|Nov 26, 2013||Ajax 2 - FC Barcelona 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Granada 0||LIGA|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|22||Ruud Van Nistelrooy||Striker|
|21||Sebastián Fernández Miglierina||Striker|
The Spaniard looked back to his best against Rayo, as he netted a double to take his tally to nine in all competitions this season. Having been overshadowed by the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Cristian Tello for large parts of the campaign, the 24-year-old will be eager to maintain his goalscoring form heading into the May 25 Copa final against Athletic.
With Malaga set up to play on the counter, the former Villarreal winger's pace will be key to getting behind the Blaugrana defence and offering support for lone striker Salomon Rondon. The Spain international is also an accomplished set-piece specialist and packs a powerful shot with either foot.
Although the title race is as good as over, Barca will be keen to produce a convincing performance in front of their own fans after their Clasico debacle. Malaga have a three-point cushion over fifth-placed Levante, and, with a pivotal game against Atletico Madrid coming up on Sunday, the visitors may opt to conserve their energy for the weekend clash.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed