Barcelona host Girona at Camp Nou on Saturday, hoping to continue their unbeaten run in La Liga and hoping to set a club record in the process.
Barcelona welcome Girona to Camp Nou on Saturday, looking to set a club record of unbeaten start to the season. While Ernesto Valverde does not have any pressing injury concerns, Ernesto Valverde is expected to rotate his side with the fixtures starting to pile up.
Barcelona have played 14 games this year and have showed signs of fatigue in the last few games, especially in the 0-0 draw against Getafe and their Champions League trip to Chelsea which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Additionally, there is another game midweek against Las Palmas, which could swerve Valverde’s decision into heavy rotation, with changes in defence, midfield as well as attack expected.
Gerard Pique is a major doubt for the game after picking up a knock against Chelsea in the Champions League Round of 16 clash, meaning Valverde could use either Thomas Vermaelen at the heart of defence alongside Samuel Umtiti, with Yerry Mina left out of the squad.
Valverde could also give Sergi Roberto a breather at right-back with Aleix Vidal and Nelson Semedo as backup options. On the opposite flank, Lucas Digne could be used at left-back in place of Jordi Alba. Meanwhile, Valverde was full of praise for Roberto, who signed a new deal with Barcelona this week.
“He is a player who adapts well to playing at the back. He can bring the ball out wide or through the middle and he can play with his back to goal…he has managed to become a valuable player in the dressing room and he is playing really well. It’s a luxury to have Sergi Roberto.”
In midfield, Paulinho and Andres Iniesta are likely to be rested, meaning the tireless Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho could all feature against Girona. Valverde could also use Aleix Vidal or Dennis Suarez in those positions, but it seems Busquets would start no matter what.
Coutinho was ineligible in the Champions League and did not feature against Chelsea. Ousmane Dembele is another player raring to start for Barcelona and could make the right side of midfield.
In attack, Valverde should start the preferred strike partnership of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, with Paco Alcacer not picked in the matchday squad by the Barcelona boss.