Barcelona suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Deportivo Alaves on Saturday after manager Luis Enrique took the decision to rest several of his key players following their international exertions. The manager will not be making that mistake again as the Catalans prepare to face Celtic in the Champions League.
Newly promoted La Liga side Alaves pulled off one of their most historic wins as they beat Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou. Luis Enrique had rested several key players including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
This provided Barca’s new signings the opportunity to make an impression, including the duo of Paco Alcacer and Jasper Cillessen. However, the plan backfired spectacularly as the La Liga champions were humbled by the division’s newcomers.
The Blaugrana now face a Celtic side riding high after their emphatic 5-1 triumph over Rangers in the Old Firm derby. Things could get difficult for Brendan Rodgers’ side though, as they will most likely be facing the Barcelona’s strongest lineup.
The players who were rested on Saturday will all probably start the game, while goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has recovered from a hamstring injury he suffered last Friday.
“Marc trained for the whole session and tomorrow we’ll decide whether he plays – but so far it’s good news,” said Barca manger Luis Enrique ahead of the game, according to UEFA.
Ter Stegen will probably replace Cillessen in goal and will be guarded by a completely changed defence from the one that conceded two goals against Alaves. Jordi Alba will start at left-back with Sergi Roberto at right-back, while Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique will form the centre-back pairing.
Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets both started the last game, but will be joined by Barcelona icon Andres Iniesta instead of Denis Suarez. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will replace Arda Turan and Paco Alcacer, while Neymar will hope to improve on his performance against Alavaes.