Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is set to hand French centre-back Clement Lenglet a start when his team take on Alaves on Saturday.

Reigning champions Barcelona will kick off the defence of their La Liga title with a fixture against Deportivo Alaves, at Camp Nou on Saturday night.

The Catalans come into the game on the back of two impressive displays that saw them dispose off Sevilla (2-1) and Boca Juniors (3-0) on their way to lifting the Spanish Super Cup and the Joan Gamper Trophy respectively over the last week.

Manager Valverde confirmed the 18-man matchday squad for Saturday during his pre-match press conference on Friday. Midfielder Denis Suarez misses out with an injury, along with the prodigiously talented academy graduate Carles Alena. Forwards Paco Alcacer and Munir El Haddadi, who spent last season on loan at Alaves, have been left out.

German international Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the undisputed No.1 at Camp Nou and will start between the sticks on Saturday, ahead of Jasper Cillesen.

Versatile operator Sergi Roberto is back in contention for selection, after missing out in the Super Cup tie due to suspension. However, Nelson Semedo is likely to get the nod at right-back ahead of the Spaniard for the upcoming game. Mainstay Jordi Alba will be the automatic choice at left-back for the champions.

Seasoned campaigner Gerard Pique will lead the defence for Valverde’s side. Summer signing Clement Lenglet is in line for his first league appearance for the Catalans, with Samuel Umtiti returning from vacation only recently and Thomas Vermaelen dropped from the matchday squad altogether.

Promising midfielder Sergi Samper is another who hasn’t made the cut to the 18-man squad for Saturday’s game while new signings Arthur and Arturo Vidal have been named by the manager.

However, both of them are unlikely to get a start, with Croatian international Ivan Rakitic in contention for a berth in the starting XI, along with linchpin Sergio Busquets. The third midfield slot should be taken up by Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, meaning Rafinha Alcantara misses out despite an impressive pre-season behind him.

Having succeeded the legendary Andres Iniesta as the new club captain, Lionel Messi will look to lead the side by example. He will start out on the right-flank and look to cause problems to the visitors with his brilliance.

New arrival Malcom impressed earlier this week, netting in the win against Boca Juniors. However, French World Cup winner Ousmane Dembele is in line to start ahead of the Brazilian on the left-side, after a dazzling display against Sevilla, capped with the match-winning goal in the Spanish Super Cup.

There have been question marks over striker Luis Suarez’s form, after a rather dull showing during the pre-season. However, manager Valverde has faith in the Uruguayan striker and hinted that he will be in the starting line-up for Saturday’s encounter.

“Luis is fine,” he said. “He’s only just coming back from his [post-World Cup] break, so he’s gradually getting up to speed, but he looks good. We know what he gives us. Regardless of his success [in front of goal], the fight is always there. He has that. Goals are a question of patience and perseverance.”

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