FC Barcelona will be going for a third straight win to stay perfect in the regular season as it welcomes EuroLeague returnee ALBA Berlin. The hosts will look to stay on the winning momentum they have entered while ALBA, in its second straight road game, will try to bounce back from a dramatic loss in Istanbul last week against Anadolu Efes.
Return of the master
ALBA head coach Aito Garcia Reneses will return to coach a game in Palau Blaugrana for the first time since May of 2016. Aito coached FC Barcelona for 17 seasons between 1985 and 2002, and he probably remains the most iconic coach of that team ever. He won several continental titles with Barcelona and put the name of the team in the first line of the European stage, but together they never managed to win the EuroLeague. Now, Aito comes back to the place that was his home for the longest time.
Barcelona and ALBA have meet six times prior in the EuroLeague and the Catalan team won five of those contests. The last time they played against each other was in the Top 16 of the 2014-15 season, also in Palau Blaugrana, as the hosts went on to win by 92-82. That was also ALBA's last season in the EuroLeague before coming back for 2019-20.
Malcolm Delaney and Peyton Siva will be the protagonists of a notorious point guard duel in the backcourt. Delaney was a late signing for Barcelona in the summer but he is already averging 8.0 points and 4.5 assists after two rounds. Siva, who had serious injuries last season, started this campaign also injured but in his comeback last week against Efes he already showed he is ready for battle: 10 points, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Keys to victory: Barcelona
Barcelona seems to be unstoppable in this start to the season as the big signings of the summer are meeting the expectations. Niko Mirotic leads the team in points and rebounds, while Brandon Davies excels on those fronts and also assists. As long as Barcelona's big men keep peforming the way they have been doing these last weeks, the hosts will have reasons to expect a good result from the game.
Keys to victory: ALBA
ALBA started the season with two outstanding performances, and the team is clearly on the rise. To succeed in such a tough trip, the German squad will need to stay true to its offensive style (95.0 ppg. and 25.5 apg.) and count on Siva, Rokas Giedraitis, Marcus Eriksson - who also returns to what was once his home - and Landry Nnoko. However, with such a talented team as Barcelona, a shootout could be a double-edged sword, so defense must be a key goal for the visitors to have chances in Barcelona.