Barcelona vs. Real Zaragoza
La Liga, kickoff Saturday November 17, 20:00 (CET) / 14:00 (ET)
Barcelona will look to maintain their lead at the top of Spain's La Liga this weekend with a home fixture against Real Zaragoza on Saturday.
Tito Vilanova's side currently hold a three-point advantage at the top of the table, but should they slip up against Zaragoza there is every chance they could be pegged back to level points by Atletico Madrid, currently in second place, as they face a trip to lowly Granada the following day.
Maximum points at home then, are as imperative as ever for Los Cules.
For Zaragoza, they currently sit in a comfortable 12th place in the league, with 12 points. A defeat though could see them slip rather closer to the bottom three—they only have a three-point cushion at present.
Bad news for the final third part of Barça's game was received this week as Alexis Sanchez picked up an injury.
The wide forward will miss around four weeks with an ankle ligament injury, picked up during international duty with Chile.
There is better news for the defence though. Gerard Pique returned to action recently and Carles Puyol is clear to return to the squad too after he dislocated his elbow earlier in Champions League play this season.
For Zaragoza, Ivan Obradovic is out for the season after ligament surgery, but Christian Sapunaru and Jose Mari are in light training as they bid to regain full fitness in time for the match.
Last season, Barcelona were triumphant in both matches between the two clubs, scoring four times both home and away. A year ago almost to the day, the score ended 4-0 at the Nou Camp with goals coming from Gerard Pique, Leo Messi, Carles Puyol and David Villa.
Later in the campaign, in the fixture at Zaragoza's La Romareda stadium, it ended 4-1 to the Catalans. Puyol and Messi (2, 1 pen) were again on the scoresheet as well as Pedro, after Carlos Aranda had actually put Los Blanquillos ahead after 30 minutes.
The last time Zaragoza beat Barcelona was in 2007, when they won 1-0 at home. You have to go all the way back to 2005 for the last time they avoided defeat at the Nou Camp (2-2).
Zaragoza don't do too badly with conceding goals. They have let in 15 in their 10 league games to date, placing them firmly in the middle of the table in that particular area.
At the other end though, they have scored a measly nine—only Osasuna have found the back of the net fewer times. Barcelona, by contrast, are the league's top scorers with 32 goals in 10 games.
Of those, the present Pichichi of La Liga is Leo Messi, and he has scored 15 of them in just 11 games—that's 47 percent of Barcelona's league goals. His battle with the entire Zaragoza defence, and how well they keep him at bay, will be key to whether or not Barcelona take the maximum amount of points.
Quick stat courtesy of whoscored.com
Barcelona have won 34 of their last 38 home matches in La Liga.
Zaragoza have some good players at their disposal—but none even come close to the riches that Barcelona can come up with, even though they have absentees. A 35th home win in 39 matches beckons. Barcelona should win 3-0 over Real Zaragoza.