On paper, Barcelona would be expected to win their upcoming fixture against Malaga. It's been 13 years since Los Boquerones managed a home victory over the Blaugrana. However there are a number of factors to consider this time around.
In two of their last three meetings, Barcelona have failed to score, and the fixture that they did win was only by a goal to nil. Furthermore, Malaga have the best current form of all of the teams from position 11 downwards. Javi Gracia's team are on a roll.
Let's take a look at three things that could shape the outcome of this one.
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Malaga's home form of late has been nothing short of astonishing.
Both Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo have succumbed at La Rosaleda and neither side have managed a goal between them either.
Despite being 36-years-old, the veteran Weligton has been amongst Malaga's best recent performers.
Carlos Kameni has been sound in goal to the extent where only Valencia have managed to score more than two goals against them during this campaign.
Barcelona will find it hugely difficult to break the hosts measly defence down and frustrations could get the better of them in the later stages.
Being the first match of the weekend, Barca have the opportunity of going top of the table, for 24 hours at least.
No more Amrabat
Always a selling club, Malaga have cashed in again with the sale of Nordin Amrabat to Watford.
The transfer comes as something of a surprise given that the Moroccan international was always an outlet down Malaga's right side. His pace troubles defences and his work rate is second to none.
Those types of players don't come along too often and Malaga may well regret allowing him to move mid-season.
For this fixture in particular, Amrabat would've been a god-send. Jordi Alba is missing for Barca and it's doubtful his replacement could contend with Amrabat's speed of thought and delivery.
Javi Gracia's flat 4-4-2 formation has served him well in most games, but he needs to find a different flavour to overcome Barca in this one.
The Catalans simply have too much impeccable and incisive movement to be undone by two banks of four and a big-man, little-man combination up front.
Luis Enrique showed that he wasn't afraid to tinker with the 4-3-3 that Barca have always used, sending his troops out not so long ago in a 4-2-3-1 - unheard of before now.
But Lucho is nothing if not progressive and is only interested in winning. Gracia needs to bring something different to the party to outfox a tactically inventive coach.
How should Luis Enrique line his side up to cope with Malaga? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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