Ernesto Valverde has chosen not to include Arthur Melo in the traveling squad as Barcelona visit the Anoeta to face Real Sociedad.
Barcelona have started the season well, with 3 wins out of 3 and a positive goal difference of 10. Ernesto Valverde though, has made an interesting choice ahead of their match against Real Sociedad. The manager has opted to leave Arthur Melo out of the traveling contingent, despite the Brazilian being fully fit.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is likely to hold on to his spot in goal after keeping two clean sheets out of 3 league games so far. The keeper will be hoping for his defensive line to regain some solidity after a nervy defensive display against SD Huesca.
In defence, Jordi Alba is the automatic choice for left-back, with Barcelona short-staffed in the said position and looking for bargain options to reinforce the area. Nelson Semedo will have to make do with a place on the bench, with Sergi Roberto being preferred by Ernesto Valverde on the right.
There have been calls to hand Clement Lenglet his first league start for the club. And, we could see that soon, albeit just not on Saturday. Real Sociedad have always been tricky customers for Barcelona and Valverde is likely to retain Umtiti and Pique at the back.
In midfield, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets are automatic names in the starting lineup, with Philippe Coutinho likely to start as the third man in the middle of the pitch.
What is interesting is that Barcelona already have Denis Suarez and Sergi Samper on the treatment table. But, the manager has chosen not to travel with Carles Alena and Arthur Melo, leaving Arturo Vidal as the only midfield option on the bench for Saturday.
Malcom remains on the sidelines. But, even if he was fit, he could have been good enough only for the bench, with the form that Ousmane Dembele is in. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are two more names that are almost automatic selections for the starting eleven.
Ernesto Valverde did not highlight any player selection or injury in his pre-match conference. But, the manager did reflect upon the fact that matches at Anoeta have always been tricky and he expects the same on Saturday.
“They’re a team that comes out ready to play, and they always make things tough by bringing the pressure.”
Barcelona are about to enter a stretch of 7 games in the next 23 days and it will be important for them to start off on a positive note.