Every season, as soon as the calendar comes out, there are certain games that fans circle on the calendar and rush to buy tickets for. With one of the biggest domestic basketball rivalries in the world to count on, plus several international ones that have intensified over the years, FC Barcelona fans have plenty of options to choose from, including these five that are sure to whet their appetite.
Round 11: Here come the champs
A visit from the defending EuroLeague champion is a big occasion anywhere, and Barcelona is no exception. What's more, CSKA has managed to defeat Barcelona in three of their last four meetings, including one in the Catalan city last season. However, Barcelona is always aiming for the highest goals, and the fact that it missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons makes winning at home against teams like CSKA a clear goal in order to finish among the top-ranked teams in the standings. In an increasingly difficult calendar, a visit from CSKA is among the highest obstacle of them all.
Round 18: Eye to eye again
Last season, Barcelona and Efes built a healthy rivalry that went down to the wire in the playoffs. They faced each other as many as seven times in 2018-19 and the final record was as close as possible: three wins for Barcelona and four for Efes, whose extra victory, in Game 5 of the playoffs, meant advancing to the team's first Final Four this century. Former Barca big man Adrien Moerman will lead the return of a core of Efes players who got the best of Barcelona last season. That is not to forget Shane Larkin, who had 30-plus points against Barcelona in two crucial games last season, both of which Efes won. There is little doubt that this matchup coming at the start of 2019 will be of pivotal importance again to both teams.
Round 23: Many happy returns
The visit of Barcelona to Valencia Basket, returning this year to the EuroLeague, will surely raise a higher than average interest in the Spanish city. Two Barcelona players – Victor Claver and Pau Ribas – won EuroCup titles with the club, while Pierre Oriola was a pivotal part of the team's first Spanish League crown in 2017. If that was not enough, coach Svetislav Pesic also coached Valencia in the EuroLeague in the 2010-11 season. All things considered, the fans in Valencia will be ready to welcome back former heroes now turned to foes.
Round 29: A well-known visitor
Sarunas Jasikevicius is a highly-regarded individual in Barcelona because of his years spent there as a player, and fans there have always given him a warm welcome when he steps on court at Palau Blaugrana, be it to play for other teams, or as in the last few seasons, as coach of Zalgiris. In 2017-18, much to those same fans dismay, Zalgiris managed to steal a win in Barcelona on its way to a historic Final Four appearance. Last season, however, Svetislav Pesic, who had coached Jasikevicius when Barcelona won the EuroLeague in 2003, lifted his team to a pair of victories, both home and away, over Zalgiris. What's more, the visitors will find old friends Kevin Pangos and Brandon Davies, both part of that 2018 Final Four team, now wearing Barcelona jerseys. Which only gives Jasikevicius and his team more incentive to try to steal another win.
Round 33: In a word, classic
One stop in the season that is always of utter importance on Barcelona's calendar is the visit from archrival Real Madrid to play another episode of El Clásico, one of the biggest rivalries in sports anywhere. Of the last six editions of this duel, both in Madrid and Barcelona, Real took five of them. But last season, Barcelona bounced back and managed to finally win at home against Los Blancos, which coincided with the Catalan team's return to the playoffs. Regardless of the standings at any point of the season, the visit of Real always stops time in Barcelona and it is one of the hottest tickets in town. It will be no different this season.