Barcelona welcome cross town rivals RCD Espanyol for the Catalan derby in the final La Liga fixture of the year in the hopes that they will be able to register their first Liga win at the Nou Camp since October. 

According to Spanish publication AS, Jeremy Mathieu will not be available for Luis Enrique, having not trained with the squad in their final training session before the match. Everyone else is fit and available for selection. Andres Iniesta’s return to fitness earlier this month has handed a huge boost to the La Liga Champions.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 06: Andres Iniesta of Barcelona (C) attempts to take the ball through the Borussia Moenchengladbach defence during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between FC Barcelona and VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach at Camp Nou on December 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 06: Andres Iniesta of Barcelona (C) attempts to take the ball through the Borussia Moenchengladbach defence during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between FC Barcelona and VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach at Camp Nou on December 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Needless to say Barcelona will line up in their usual 4-3-3 formation. Ter Stegen will be in goal and it is expected that Umtiti will be partnering Pique in the center of defence, rather than Mascherano. Despite having impressed over the course of the past few weeks with some convincing performances, Lucas Digne will have to sit out for Jordi Alba, and Sergi Roberto will take his place at right back.

In midfield, Ivan Rakitic should get the nod ahead of Andre Gomes. The Portuguese is yet to show the same kind of form that made Barcelona pay nearly €50 million for him in the summer, and questions would be raised of Luis Enrique should he give Gomes the nod ahead of the Croatian. The remaining 2 midfield spots will be filled by the irreplaceable Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.

Perhaps the people who have benefited the most by the return of Iniesta are Barcelona’s ‘MSN’ trio. Luis Suarez, having just signed a contract extension with the club, alongside Neymar and Messi will be expected to breach a seemingly impenetrable Espanyol defence. Rafinha and Denis Suarez, who have impressed in recent weeks, are also expected to feature in some capacity later on in the game.

Leave A Comment...

*