Madrid: Currently placed third with 50 points from 23 matches, FC Barcelona are set to face what appears to be a manageable home game on Sunday, as they host La Liga's Granada at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuic with a possibility to move closer to the top two.
Barcelona will know the outcome of Saturday's match between leaders Real Madrid and second-placed Girona before they take the field on Sunday. If Girona win, then Barca could have the chance to close the gap on the top of the table to six points, while a win for Real Madrid would leave Girona just three points ahead of Xavi Hernandez's side if they beat Granada.
Consecutive wins have helped some confidence return to Barca in the wake of their Copa del Rey defeat to Athletic Bilbao and the 5-3 loss at home to Villarreal, which led Xavi to confirm he will step down at the end of the season. Despite injuries sidelining Ferran Torres, Gavi, Joao Felix, Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso, and Sergi Roberto, along with Vitor Roque's suspension, there is positive news for Barcelona. Defender Inigo Martinez and winger Raphinha have returned to fitness.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen has also recovered from his back operation and everything points to the German replacing Inaki Pena in goal. Ter Stegen has not played since suffering the injury in the last international break, and although Pena has shown himself to be a capable deputy, he doesn't command the penalty area as well as the German international.
Granada travel to Barcelona looking increasingly doomed to relegation despite several signings in the January transfer window. Following a glimmer of hope after a win at home to fellow strugglers Cadiz, three consecutive defeats and a draw have left Granada with just 12 points from 23 matches. Speaking on Friday, Granada coach Alex Medina said his side needed to be "close to perfection" to get anything from Sunday's game, but this season, "perfection" has only been a distant concept for his side. IANS