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 FC Barcelona
- 10.87 %
Zaragoza 0-8 FC Barcelona
- 9.95 %
Zaragoza 0-3 FC Barcelona
- 9.89 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Apr 14, 2013||Zaragoza 0 - FC Barcelona 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Nov 17, 2012||FC Barcelona 3 - Zaragoza 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Apr 7, 2012||Zaragoza 1 - FC Barcelona 4|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Nov 19, 2011||FC Barcelona 4 - Zaragoza 0|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Mar 5, 2011||FC Barcelona 1 - Zaragoza 0|
|Dec 8, 2013||Zaragoza 2 - Córdoba 1||ESP2|
|Nov 30, 2013||Las Palmas 0 - Zaragoza 1||ESP2|
|Nov 24, 2013||Zaragoza 1 - Girona FC 0||ESP2|
|Nov 16, 2013||Real Jaén CF 3 - Zaragoza 0||ESP2|
|Nov 9, 2013||Zaragoza 1 - Numancia 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.
With Barca's defensive injury woes set to continue, a great deal could rest on the young shoulders of Barta in the closing stages of the season. Having appeared as a substitute in both Champions League quarter-final legs against Paris Saint-Germain, a strong showing from the 22-year-old on Sunday could see him force his way into Tito Vilanova's plans for the up-coming clash with Bayern Munich.
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