Luis Enrique has star forward Neymar unavailable through suspension as Barcelona host Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Barcelona resume league action on Saturday, looking to return to winning ways when former Blaugrana player Eusebio Sacristan brings Real Sociedad to Camp Nou. Luis Enrique’s men sit three points behind arch rivals Real Madrid in second place, having played a game more than Los Blancos.
Barcelona are fresh from their crushing 3-0 loss to Juventus in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg tie on Wednesday – their second in a row after the 2-0 loss to Malaga last weekend. Ahead of the match on Saturday, here’s the all-important team news for Barcelona.
The report on that front is not bad at all, as Luis Enrique does not have any pressing injury concerns to deal with, except one major absentee in Neymar, who is suspended after being sent off in the 2-0 loss to Malaga last Saturday.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 14, 2017
To compound the Barcelona boss’ trouble, the duration of Neymar’s ban has been increased from one match to three after the Brazil forward sarcastically applauded the referee’s decision on his way off the field.
Thus, the suspension will not only result in Neymar missing Saturday’s match, but also the crucial El Clasico meeting with Real Madrid next week. Thus, Enrique has an unenviable task of finding a replacement for his star forward for three games.
On Saturday, that man is likely to be Paco Alcacer, with Arda Turan’s availability being touch and go. The Turkish international has made a quick recovery from a groin injury, but he is yet to receive the green light to play against Real Sociedad.
Meanwhile, Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic are available after being suspended for the trip to Malaga last week. The duo are expected to return straight to starting lineup, with Luis Enrique also expected to revert to a back-four after being found out in a back-three system against Juventus.
However, Aleix Vidal (ankle) and Rafinha (knee) are set to be sidelined for the remainder of the season, while Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano is doubtful due to the calf injury he picked up in the midweek game.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Luis Enrique gave an indication that he will play his strongest possible eleven despite facing Juventus again on Tuesday. He said: “We want to have a chance of winning the league, and that begins with a win against Real Sociedad.”