Pedro Barcelona
Barcelona forward Pedro celebrates after scoring against Real Betis in La Liga, November 10. Reuters

Barcelona begin their first of many games without talisman Lionel Messi by hosting Granada in the La Liga at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

The Argentine superstar has been ruled out for several weeks with a hamstring injury and it will be interesting to see how Barcelona will cope without their best player.

In fact, Gerardo Martino has several other injury worries with goalkeeper Victor Valdes, in tremendous form this season, also ruled out for six weeks. Influential midfielder Xavi will be unavailable as well for the clash against Granada, along with Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Jonathan Dos Santos, Christian Tello and Ibrahim Afellay.

"It's a tough match against a team like Granada. The players missing are very good, and those who were at training too," Martino said. "We shouldn't be thinking too much about the missing players, but in those who are taking their places.

"The absence of players is always unfortunate, and now we're missing the best goalkeeper in the world. I don't have any reason to believe we will be weaker, and at times these unexpected situations can make you stronger."

The players that have been brought in are two youngsters forward Marie Dongou and winger Adama Traore, and Martino has big expectations from them.

"We like Dongou as a centre forward," said. "He did very well in preseason and Adama is one of the most important up-and-coming projects at Barcelona."

Granada, currently eighth with 17 points from 13 matches, will look at this game against Barcelona as their best chance to get one over the defending champions. A Barca team without Messi, even with the rest of the superstars, is just not the same and Granada will be hopeful of coming away with a positive result.

"It's nice that the fans think now is the time to beat Barcelona but we have to think about the game itself and develop what we have been working on," Granada coach Lucas Alcaraz said.

With Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid only playing later in the day, Barcelona can increase their lead at the top of the table, for a few hours at least. Barca currently lead Atletico by three points, with Real a further three adrift.

Key men: Barcelona: Alexis Sanchez has been in terrific form lately, and the Chilean international will be expected to get his name on the scoresheet.

Granada: Youssef El-Arabi grabbed a hat-trick for his side in a 3-1 win over Malaga two weeks ago, and the Moroccan forward will be keen to take that form into the Barca game.

Where to Watch Live

The game is scheduled for an 8.30 pm IST start with live coverage on Star Sports HD1. You can also live stream the match online by going to the official Star Sports website. To catch the game via live streaming in the U.S., click HERE.

Expected lineups: Barcelona: Pinto; Montoya, Puyol, Pique, Adriano; Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Sanchez, Neymar.

Granada: Roberto; Diakhate, Murillo, Angulo, Iturra; Yebda, Brahimi, Foulquier; Fran Rico, Buonanotte, El-Arabi.

Prediction: 4-2 to Barcelona