Ernesto Valverde does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with as Barcelona prepare to face Real Sociedad at Anoeta on Sunday.
Barcelona can potentially widen the gap on bitter rivals Real Madrid to a staggering 19 points when they take the tricky trip to Anoeta to take on Real Sociedad on Sunday. Heading into the game, Ernesto Valverde does not have any fresh injury concerns, with just three players on the treatment table.
Samuel Umtiti (hamstring) and Paco Alcacer (muscle) are just days away from returning to full fitness and should return to the pitch soon. New signing Philippe Coutinho, though, will be on the sidelines for a couple more weeks due to a thigh injury, delaying his debut for the club.
Other than the trio, Gerard Deulofeu and Rafinha have been excluded from the matchday squad as well as they continue building up their match fitness, with Aleix Vidal a notable absentee too.
Yerry Mina is not available this weekend either, having only managed one training session, but Valverde was pleased to welcome the Colombian to Barcelona in his pre-match press conference.
“He seems to be man with a lot of character. He’s not shy. He makes his presence felt and is a daring, attack-minded kind of player. He’s spectacular in the air and that’s going to help us a lot.”
With Yerry Mina and Umtiti unavailable, Thomas Vermaelen and Gerard Pique are expected to line up at the heart of the Barcelona defence. The rest of the defensive unit selects itself, with Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba expected to be the full-backs, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen should be the man in goal once again.
Up ahead in midfield, Sergio Busquets is likely to return to the starting lineup after serving a one-match ban last weekend. Paulinho and Andres Iniesta are expected to be alongside the Spaniard. But, the spotlight should be on Ousmane Dembele, who is likely to line up on the right side of the midfield.
The strike partnership selects itself as well, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez likely to line up upfront. The Uruguayan, in particular, will be a key figure, expected to continue a recent upsurge in form, while Messi will look to improve his record at the dreaded Anoeta, where Barcelona haven’t won a league game in more than a decade.