Barcelona will aim to put back to back La Liga defeats behind them when they travel to Amsterdam to face Dutch champions Ajax later today.
A stunning start to the season has been forgotten with a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid followed by a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to Celta Vigo pushing the club off the perch of La Liga and into fourth place.
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Despite the cloud around the club at present, the club will be able to secure their place in the knock out stages if the can beat Ajax and if APOEL fail to beat Paris-Saint Germain, and Spanish international midfielder Sergio Busquets is determined that they respond from their recent setbacks.
“We’ve had a bad week,” he said on Monday in the build up to the game. “What we want to do now is turn things around. Hopefully we can put an end to this poor run.”
While the players are keen to turn things around, reports in the media suggest that manager Luis Enrique is close to losing the support of the players. The former Celta manager has struggled to effectively manage the large squad at his disposal with Gerard Pique and Xavi just two of the stars that have struggled for game time this season.
Pique could get a recall against Ajax however with Jeremy Mathieu, a surprise at left back for the El Clasico defeat, out for three weeks.
The absence of Andres Iniesta meaning that Javier Mascherano could move into the middle of the park with Marc Bartha and Pique forming a new look centre-back pairing. Enrique will also be without Sergi Roberto (groin) and Thomas Vermaelen (thigh) for the game.
The fact that Lionel Messi, so prolific earlier in the season, has now disappeared at a time when Barcelona need him will also worry fans.
The striker has failed to score in his last two games, hardly a cause of major concern but when it us arguably the world’s greatest player then it becomes an issue.
Last season Barcelona lost 2-1 away to Ajax despite playing most of the second half against 10 men and with their midweek hosts coming into the game on the back of a three game winning streak, another difficult night is on the cards.