After a pair of disappointing results, Barcelona are hoping for an improved performance when they welcome Celta Vigo to the Camp Nou on Saturday night for a La Liga clash.
The Catalans are joint top of the table, level on 22 points with arch rivals Real Madrid, despite opening their campaign with three defeats and a draw.
Having slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Leganes last week, the Blaugrana then failed to score at home against Slavia Prague midweek in the Champions League.
The recent disappointments have increased the pressure on embattled manager Ernesto Valverde, who can ill-afford anything other than a resounding victory.
There have been widespread calls for his dismissal among Barcelona’s fan base since last season, which saw them win the league but crash out of the Champions League after a harrowing 4-0 second leg semi-final defeat against Liverpool.
Barcelona will attempt to stay atop the La Liga table without left back Jordi Alba, who will be out for a month through injury, with youngster Junior Firpo expected to take his place.
There are doubts also in midfield; after the disappointing result against Levante in which Arthur, joined Frenkie De Jong and Arturo Vidal in the center of the pitch, Sergi Busquets was restored for the drab goalless draw against Prague in midweek.
The reigning champions will also be without star striker Luis Suarez, who limped off last week against Levante. Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann are expected to lead the line, with one of Mousa Dembele or Ansu Fati deputising in the Urugayan’s absence.
Their opponents on Saturday, Celta Vigo, find themselves at the other end of the table in 18th position, two points adrift of safety, after 12 games.
In response, this week the club brought in manager Oscar Garcia Junyent, a former player who spent most of his career playing at the Camp Nou, to replace Fran Escriba, following a run of four consecutive losses.
The former Barcelona player urged patience from his players and the club’s fans, but said his new charges were starting to implement his changes.
“I’m not a magician to do everything that I want to do in three days, but we have started to work on some concepts,'' Oscar said. “In these three days we have taken the first steps and I would like to see these reflected in Barcelona.”
The new Celta coach said that this team could leave Camp Nou with a positive result despite the odds being stacked heavily against the Galician side.
“We are going to play our game and try to build confidence. We know where we are going, against who we are playing, the situation that they are in and that which we are in, but we’re going to try to win,” Oscar said. EFE-EPA