Barcelona's Jordi Alba has a point to prove ahead of Huesca visit after Spain snub

Andy West 1/09/2018
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La Liga title holders Barcelona get back to action on Sunday evening with a home game against newly-promoted Huesca, who have made a great start to the season with a win and a draw from their opening two games.

Barca will look to head into the impending international break on a high by retaining their 100 per cent record, but the confident visitors will be determined to spring a major upset.

Here we take a look at three of the big talking points ahead of the Camp Nou clash.

Misfiring Suarez under pressure

Barcelona are perfectly happy with their start to the season after following up an opening day home win over Alaves with last weekend’s 1-0 victory on the potato-field pitch of Real Valladolid, but coach Ernesto Valverde still has one significant cause for concern: the poor form of Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan striker has been well below his best so far this season, failing to find the target and producing several heavy touches and badly-directed passes to the frustration of team-mates and fans, who aimed some moans and groans towards Suarez during his lacklustre display against Alaves in the last home game.

With Paco Alcacer departed to Borussia Dortmund on a season-long loan, the only other striker in the squad to compete with Suarez is youngster Munir El-Haddadi, but Valverde is clearly committed to giving his first-choice frontman the chance to play himself into form.

A goal or two before the international break – which will see Suarez join up with Uruguay for a friendly meeting with Mexico – is exactly what the veteran forward needs to boost his confidence…and to allay the fears of fans that he is starting to enter an irreversible dip.

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

Alba with a point to prove?

One of the least high-profile members of Barca’s team will be claiming more of the spotlight than usual, with left-back Jordi Alba making headlines on Friday after being excluded from the first Spain squad named by new boss Luis Enrique.

The selection of Valencia’s Jose Gaya ahead of Alba represents a huge snub for the Barca player, who has been an unquestioned first choice at international level ever since he broke into the team in 2011, winning 66 senior caps, but who suffered a serious falling out with Enrique during the new La Roja coach’s final season at the Camp Nou.

The decision to omit Alba smacks of a personal vendetta against a player who is surely better than only the third-best left-back in Spain, and he will be eager to prove Enrique wrong by producing an influential performance for his club side this weekend – especially through his well-proven ability to link up with Lionel Messi’s diagonal passes by making his trademark lung-busting runs down the left flank.

Barca boss Valverde refused to be drawn on the matter on Saturday evening, insisting that only Enrique can make the decision, but it’s pretty certain that Alba will be playing with an extra spark of fire in his belly.

Point to prove: Jordi Alba.

Point to prove: Jordi Alba.

Confident Huesca in the mood for an upset

Huesca were given little chance of anything other than a long and hard battle against relegation as they headed into their first season in the top flight, but so far they have defied expectations by winning their season opener against Eibar and then battling back from 2-0 down to earn a more than creditable point at Athletic Bilbao.

The Aragon-based side are following a familiar pattern in La Liga over recent years of tiny clubs with similarly minuscule budgets enjoying steady and sustained success to gradually rise into the top flight and then stay there, with Eibar, Leganes and Girona providing the example to follow.

Huesca’s success has been anything but a flash in the pan, with promotion from the third tier in 2015 being followed by the year-on-year improvement of 12th, 6th and then second place finishes to climb into the Primera Division.

They have strengthened well this summer, with manager Leo Franco – a former Argentine international team-mate of Messi – selecting six newly signed players for the first two games. And although they are massive underdogs, Huesca’s self-belief should not be underestimated.

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Hey Blaugrana fans, Jay Asser here bringing you the latest on all things Barcelona.

As always, get in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook.

10:00pm – Messi is the best ever, says Huesca coach

Huesca coach Leo Franco has warned his La Liga newcomers they will come up against “the best player in the history of football” when they rub shoulders with Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian, who has guided last season’s Segunda Division runners-up to an unbeaten start in the top flight, has no doubts about the threat posed by his illustrious compatriot, but also the danger of underestimating his team-mates.

Read the quotes here.

6:00 pm – Jordi Alba has a point to prove ahead of Huesca visit 

La Liga title holders Barcelona get back to action on Sunday evening with a home game against newly-promoted Huesca, who have made a great start to the season with a win and a draw from their opening two games.

Read Andy West’s talking points ahead of the match

2:27pm – Barca wish Munir a happy 23rd birthday

Munir El Haddadi turned 23 on Saturday and Barcelona wished the Spaniard a happy birthday on Twitter by showing his goal against Tottenham in the International Champions Cup this year.

12:30pm – Pique charged for driving with no points on licence

Gerard Pique was arrested on Friday for driving without a valid licence, according to radio station Cadena SER.

The Blaugrana man was found to have no points on his licence due to previous traffic infractions. In Spain, the punishment for driving without any points on your licence could result in six months in prison or a fine up to €6,000.

0205 Pique

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Live Barcelona Blog: Jordi Alba left out of Spain squad

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Hello Blaugrana fans!

David Cooper here bringing you the latest Barcelona news on Friday.

It’s transfer deadline day in La Liga so will there be any late incomings for the Catalan giants?

Barca are back in league action on Sunday, where they face minnows Huesca.

As ever, get in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook.

5pm – Blaugrana reaction to Champions League draw

Barca representative Guillermo Amor reacts to who the Catalan giants will face in Europe:

4pm – Barcelona in training today

3.20pm – Alba omitted from Enrique’s La Roja squad

Surprise omission: Jordi Alba.

Surprise omission: Jordi Alba.

Jordi Alba is a high-profile omission from Luis Enrique’s first Spain squad as La Roja prepare to face England in the Nations League.

Read more, here.

2pm – Rafinha switch to Betis unlikely

Rafinha featured for Barcelona during pre-season.

Rafinha featured for Barcelona during pre-season.

Barcelona‘s hopes of shifting unwanted midfielder Rafinha before the La Liga transfer window slams shut in Spain on Friday appear all but over.

Read the full story, here.

10am – Lionel Messi in fire on training!

9am – Barca learn Champions League group stage draw fate

In case you missed it, Barcelona have been drawn in a challenging Group B – featuring Tottenham, PSV and Inter Milan.

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