Barcelona club captain Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano unavailable for the trip to Eibar on Sunday night.
Barcelona visit the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Sunday night in what is the final match in Gameweek 19 of La Liga. With Real Madrid beating Malaga on Saturday and with Sevilla playing earlier in the day, Luis Enrique will know that the Blaugrana need to win to keep pace in the La Liga title race.
With the race for the league more open than ever before this season, this is the right time for Luis Enrique’s men to capitalise on their rivals’ recent slip up. Ahead of Sunday’s match, here’s the team news for Barcelona.
Enrique does not have a lot of injury concerns on his hands, and he heads to the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Sunday with a near full strength squad at his disposal.
However, there is one big blow for the Barcelona boss to deal with, with club captain Andres Iniesta ruled out for the clash against Eibar due to a calf injury. His future availability will be assessed after further tests, but he is definitely absent for Sunday’s match.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 21, 2017
Fellow midfielder Rafinha has also been ruled out with a hamstring strain, with Luis Enrique not interested in risking the young Brazil international. Enrique did appear to lament the loss of Iniesta in his pre-match press conference, but he was not worrying as he said has a lot of options to choose from.
Enrique said of Iniesta’s absence on Sunday, “There is no-one else like him in the squad, nor in world football. [But] I have a good selection of players in that position and they all can bring things to the team in defence and attack.”
Iniesta’s absence means that Ivan Rakitic is all set to start his first league game since the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid last month, after impressing in the cup ties against Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao this month. Andre Gomes, who has struggled for minutes in his first season at Camp Nou, is also likely to be handed a rare start by Enrique
Meanwhile, Argentina international Javier Mascherano is the third and final absentee for Enrique, as he suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 5-0 thumping of Las Palmas last weekend.
With Mascherano unavailable, Samuel Umtiti will start in the heart of the Barcelona defence alongside central defensive mainstay Gerard Pique. Sergi Roberto is also likely to start at right-back despite Aleix Vidal’s impressive outing against Las Palmas last week, with Jordi Alba occupying the final defensive slot.
Here’s the 18-man Barcelona squad heading to the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Sunday:
Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis, Arda, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal, Umtiti and Mathieu.