Eibar vs Barcelona
Barcelona’s La Liga campaign comes to a close at the Ipuria Municipal Stadium on Saturday when they face bottom club Eibar with just pride at stake.
Atletico Madrid are in the box seat in the race for the title, with only Real Madrid still in the race after Barca went down to a defeat in their penultimate game. Ronald Koeman’s side is now targeting third place and with Sevilla breathing down their necks they will want to finish on a high.
After seven seasons in the top-flight, Eibar have dropped through the trapdoor and are on the way to the Segunda Division. But they will hope to end their stay in the top-flight with a marquee victory.
The La Liga 2021 betting odds are backing Barca’s quality to shine through. But recent form suggests that the Azulgranas have a chance, since they have picked up more points than their lofty opponents over the last five games.
Since climbing up to the Primera Liga for the first time in their history back in 2014, Eibar have been a welcome addition to the top-flight and have acquitted themselves superbly.
They battled through the first season and finished 18th, but survived relegation as 13th-placed Elche were punished for financial irregularities and were kicked out of the top division.
Newly-appointed head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar guided them to 14th place in their second season, and that was their joint lowest finish as they enjoyed two top 10 seasons – ranking as the highest-placed Basque team when they took ninth place in 2018.
14th again last season, they struggled from the start of this campaign.
Recent victories over Alaves and Getafe and a draw with Real Betis gave Eibar hope but a 4-1 thumping at the hands of Valencia has left them rock bottom and falling headlong towards the second tier.
Mendilibar has a full squad to pick from for this fond farewell, and star striker Kike will hope to add to his 12 goals.
With just two wins at home all season, the hosts have a big task on their hands but they will be up for the fight.
Can Barcelona conquer the Basque?
Koeman’s not had the best first season as Blaugrana boss and he has one more test on Saturday, to motivate his stars to show what they can do and return from the Basque country with three more points.
A shock defeat to Granada, followed by a failure to beat Atletico Madrid put the Catalans on the back foot and they toppled over last week in a 2-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo as Clement Lenglet was sent off.
This means that the French centre-back will sit this one out. Koeman has several other absentees with an injury list including Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, and keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, and so Neto will start between the sticks.
A word for Lionel Messi who, despite his team’s modest season, has had another phenomenal campaign. He’s storming the Golden Boot with 30 goals and with one game to play, he is seven ahead of Villarreal hitman Gerard Moreno.
All but two of the last 13 games have gone the way of the Blaugrana with two draws the sum total of Eibar’s share.
But those two points were picked up over the past 24 months — a 2-2 draw at the Ipuria Municipal in 2019 — and then the teams played out a 1-1 draw this season at the Camp Nou in December.
Messi was injured and he watched Martin Braithwaite miss a penalty before Kike gave Eibar a shock lead. Ousmane Dembele equalised to give the Blaugrana a point.
In terms of their recent La Liga 2021 results as Barcelona’s title hopes disappeared without trace, their form over the last six games is hardly better than that of the bottom club.
Both have won twice, though Barca have drawn twice and lost twice while Eibar have lost three and drawn one.
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