Barcelona will face off against a relegation-threatened Villarreal outfit at Camp Nou on Sunday evening.
Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona will be aiming to get back to the top of the table, when they go head to head against Villarreal at home this weekend.
Currently occupying second spot on the La Liga standings, a point behind leaders Sevilla, the Catalans are without a win in their last two league games and will be looking to set that right on Sunday.
Manager Ernesto Valverde has plenty of injury concerns heading into the encounter. Second-choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen remains sidelined for the home team, meaning 19-year-old Inaki Pena will make it to the bench again, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen firmly established as the no. 1.
Sergi Roberto and Thomas Vermaelen remain unavailable for the Blaugrana. Samuel Umtiti has also been ruled out, only a week after he made his comeback and the Frenchman could be set for a long spell out on the sidelines.
Speaking of the defender in his pre-match presser, Valverde said, “Umtiti is a very important player for us. We hope he will be able to recover and help us throughout the season. Umtiti’s recovery is being very closely monitored and we’ll also be helping with the decision [of needing a surgery].”
“We do know there’s a winter transfer window coming up. So we’ll need to look at the situation, we can’t wait for five months, we need a strong team. We think we’ll get Umtiti back before the end of the season.”
With Umtiti sidelined, Clement Lenglet should partner Gerard Pique at the heart of the Barcelona defence, flanked by Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba on the right and left sides, respectively.
Summer signing Arthur Melo once again misses out of the matchday squad for the Catalans with an injury, while fellow midfielder Arturo Vidal is also carrying a knock he picked up in the 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven earlier this week. However, the Chilean is expected to be fit enough to feature against the Yellow Submarine on Sunday.
Sergio Busquets is a guaranteed starter at the base of the three-man midfield for Barcelona, with Ivan Rakitic set to complete the triumvirate. Young prodigy Carles Alena, who has been included in the squad by the manager, could make a substitute appearance.
Valverde will not be able to call upon the services of Uruguayan international Luis Suarez as well, meaning club captain Lionel Messi will start in the false nine role at the weekend.
Philippe Coutinho is a shoo-in on the left flank, while fellow Brazilian Malcom is expected to be edged out by Ousmane Dembele for a spot on the opposite wing.