La Liga Preview: Barca face Malaga, tests for Madrid duo
Luis Enrique's side won their opening five matches of the season in all competitions but were toothless at Malaga on Wednesday, failing to register a shot on target in a goalless draw.
The result - which did at least yield a sixth consecutive clean sheet - left Barcelona level with nearest rivals Sevilla on 13 points apiece, with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid two and four points off the pace respectively.
The Barca coach paid tribute to Malaga for keeping Messi quiet but also took the positives from the start that he has made to his Camp Nou tenure.
"It's to Malaga's credit that Messi wasn't so involved," he said. "But we're still unbeaten, we still haven't conceded – we're on the right track."
Since returning to La Liga in 2011, Granada have lost five of their six meetings with Barcelona, though they won their last 1-0 in April.
Atletico have come in for some criticism for an apparent over-reliance on set-pieces and that intensified after Miranda headed home the only goal against Almeria from a corner on Tuesday.
However, coach Diego Simeone, whose touchline suspension will continue at home to Sevilla, retorted: "In order to have corners, you have to attack. Winning because of strategic goals doesn't bother me – it's part of the game."
Stephane Mbia and Gerard Deulofeu have been thriving for Sevilla, who have won five straight competitive games.
"We've been very consistent," said Sevilla coach Unai Emery. "Hopefully our season can go from good to great."
Villarreal welcome Real Madrid and a rampant Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored seven goals in his past two appearances, to El Madrigal.
In-form Russia winger Denis Cheryshev is ineligible to play against his parent club but Villarreal can take confidence from the fact they are unbeaten in five outings and have drawn their last two assignments at home to Real.
In a distraction from the on-field action, a Manchester United fans' group is planning to fly a banner over the stadium urging Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford.
Elsewhere, Sixth-placed Celta Vigo are away to Elche in Friday's only game, while mid-table Eibar entertain struggling Athletic Bilbao the following day.
Levante versus Rayo Vallecano is also on Saturday.
On Sunday, Real Sociedad host Valencia, Deportivo La Coruna are at Almeria, Getafe are at home to Malaga, and Cordoba meet Espanyol in a battle at the bottom.