Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is unlikely to make any changes to his side for the Catalonian derby against Girona on Sunday night.
Barcelona will look to continue on their winning ways and make it five victories in five matches in La Liga, when they face off against Girona at Camp Nou this weekend.
The reigning champions have been off to a solid start in the defence of their title, notching up four straight wins, with their last league game ending in a hard-fought 2-1 triumph over Real Sociedad at the Anoeta. Having beaten Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven 4-0 in the UEFA Champions League, they will come into the game high on confidence.
Midfielder Sergi Samper, who returned to full training this week, has failed to make it to Valverde’s matchday squad, along with fellow academy graduate Carles Alena. Former Arsenal man Thomas Vermaelen also fails to make the cut, as does midfielder Rafinha, who was on the bench in the win against PSV.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a certainty to start in goal for the champions ahead of Dutchman Jasper Cillesen. Nelson Semedo is set to sit out once again, with Sergi Roberto the preferred choice at right-back, while Jordi Alba will start as the left-sided full-back for the Catalans.
In central defence, Gerard Pique will partner up with Samuel Umtiti, who was sent off against PSV, meaning Clement Lenglet’s wait for his first La Liga start for his new club will continue.
There were a few concerns over the availability of summer signing Arthur Melo, after he had trained separately from the squad on the eve of the game. “Arthur had gastroenteritis and didn’t train on Friday. We’ll see if he’s available,” the manager was quoted as saying in his press conference before the match.
As it turns out, the Brazilian international has been passed fit by the medical staff and is part of the matchday squad, but is unlikely to feature from the get-go.
Sergio Busquets is a vital cog for in this Barcelona team and is a definite starter in the middle of the park. Croatian international Ivan Rakitic will provide support for the Spaniard in the engine room, while Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho will occupy the third midfield slot and offer the creative outlet.
Summer signing Malcom has recovered from his ankle problem and took part in training on Friday, the manager confirmed. “We hope he can join us. He took part in the full workout on Friday,” Valverde said in his pre-match presser. However, the Brazilian has been left out of the 18-man squad by the gaffer.
Club captain Lionel Messi is coming into the game fresh on the back of a brilliant hat-trick and will be a huge thorn in Girona’s side from the right-flank on Sunday. The left-wing will be occupied by Frenchman Ousmane Dembele, who has now scored in three matches on a row, while Luis Suarez will lead the line, having found some form after a slow start to the campaign.