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|Match Result and Both Teams to Score
|Barcelona and Yes
|Barcelona and No
|Alaves and Yes
|Alaves and No
Alaves have struggled for goals all season long and the Blaugrana could raise their game following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman.
Back Barcelona and No (+110)
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It was always a matter of when, rather than if, Ronald Koeman would vacate his position as Barcelona manager. Yet the timing of his dismissal on Wednesday night still came as a surprise. Only a day previously reports had stated that the board retained faith in the Dutchman for now, despite Barcelona’s 2-1 defeat in the Clasico on Sunday. If a change was to be made, the November international break looked like the ideal time to make it.
Clearly, though, a fifth defeat of the season was deemed intolerable by the president Joan Laporta and his colleagues in the boardroom. They wanted to see a reaction when Barcelona faced Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday, around 75 hours after the loss to Real Madrid. Instead, the Blaugrana slumped to a 1-0 defeat which leaves them ninth in the La Liga table heading into the weekend. In terms of points, they are now as close to upcoming opponents Alaves in 16th as they are to Madrid in top spot.
Plainly, Koeman has not done a good job this season. But it would be wrong to pin all of Barcelona’s problems on his shoulders, as some of the club’s more one-eyed fans have done in recent times. Lionel Messi’s departure in the summer was always going to have an adverse effect on Barcelona, particularly as it came relatively late in the transfer window. The club was restricted to free transfers and the mood around the camp cannot have been helped by daily reports of Barcelona’s financial woes.
This team is clearly better than ninth place in La Liga, and Koeman ultimately did not do enough to demonstrate he is the man who can get Barcelona closer to the top. It would be a mistake, however, to expect an instant and lasting improvement now that he has gone.
Xavi Hernandez is the overwhelming favorite to succeed Koeman, while Roberto Martinez, Andrea Pirlo, Erik ten Hag and Marcelo Gallardo have also been linked with the position. Sergi Barjuan, the Barcelona B boss, is expected to take charge of Saturday’s game, although there has not been any official confirmation of that temporary appointment at the time of writing.
Alaves’ recent upturn in results means this might not be as straightforward a fixture as Sergi Barjuan would have hoped for. And while Barcelona still have more than enough quality to emerge victoriously, that was also the case against Rayo on Wednesday. Few anticipated them dropping points against Cadiz and Granada last month either. Anyone who has watched Barcelona this term will know that anything is possible.
Yet despite back-to-back victories over Cadiz and Elche, Alaves are only just outside the relegation zone. They registered an impressive 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid last month, but seven defeats in 10 games is a worse record than every other team in the division with the exception of last-placed Getafe.
The biggest worry for Alaves is their lack of attacking threat. One goal was enough to beat Atletico and Elche – and that was just as well. Javier Calleja’s men have found the back of the net just five times this term; again, only Getafe have fewer goals to their name. The underlying numbers suggest they have been a little unfortunate having racked up a cumulative 9.1 expected goals, but a failure to score in 60 percent of their matches to date shows clearly where Alaves’ problems lie.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats within the space of a few days, Barcelona will be pleased to take to the field again on Saturday. It gives them a chance to get those losses out of their system, even if a meeting with Alaves cannot compete in terms of magnitude with a game against Real Madrid.
Barcelona have scored in every home game they have played in La Liga so far this season. That does not mean they have no issues in attack, and the absence of creativity at times under Koeman is a big part of what cost him his job. But Barcelona have scored more goals on their own patch than any other side in Spain’s top flight, and only Rayo Vallecano have taken more points at home. Camp Nou has, with the notable exception of the defeat by Madrid, been a happy hunting ground for Barcelona in the league this season.
Alaves, meanwhile, have scored just two goals on their travels. They will be more confident now than they were before their two recent wins, but the dismissal of Koeman makes Alaves’ task more difficult. Barcelona should benefit from a new-manager bounce, so back them to beat their low-scoring opponents without conceding.
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|Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves Information
|Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves
|Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
|Saturday, 30 October 2021, 3.00 PM EDT
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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