Barcelona can dictate their destiny with regard to the LaLiga Santander title if they beat Granada at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening (19:00 CEST) in what is their game in hand over their rivals at the top of the table.
The Blaugrana are currently on 71 points after 32 games played, level with Real Madrid but two points behind Atletico Madrid, with Los Blancos and Los Rojiblancos both having played 33 games.
Therefore, a win would against Granada would not only take Barcelona top on 74 points but it would mean that they know they will become champions if they win their remaining five games.
After a turbulent campaign, particularly in the first half of the season, Barcelona could add to their Copa del Rey crown by also securing the league title in Ronald Koeman’s debut season in charge.
First, though, they must beat Granada. The good news for Barcelona is that Lionel Messi is playing some wonderful football at present, while the Andalusians are a team that he enjoys facing, having scored 14 goals in 13 meetings against them.
One thing to note with regard to Messi, however, is that he is one booking away from a suspension, so he will have to tread carefully ahead of two tricky fixtures against Valencia and Atletico Madrid.
The Argentine is not the only Barcelona player in this situation, as Frenkie de Jong, Antoine Griezmann and Oscar Mingueza are also having to currently walk the tightrope.
Ilaix wants a chance
Koeman may look to rotate slightly after a demanding schedule of late, which could open the door for Ilaix Moriba to get yet more minutes under his belt.
The 18-year-old is now above Riqui Puig and Miralem Pjanic in the pecking order, and it would not be a shock if he is named in the starting line-up against Granada.
Don’t underestimate Granada
What is clear is that Granada will not make things easy for Barcelona on Thursday, as they themselves are pushing to secure Europa League football for the second time in succession.
Diego Martinez’s side have already played 52 matches in all competitions this season and they will come up against an in-form Barcelona team, but – as we have seen against the likes of Manchester United and Napoli – they will not be afraid to take the game to the Catalans.
There are a couple of notable absentees for Granada, however, as Angel Montoro and Antonio Puertas both picked up suspensions in the 2-1 loss at Sevilla last time out, while there are doubts about whether Rui Silva, German Sanchez and Kenedy will play. One player that is definitely out due to injury is Carlos Neva.