Barcelona will face off against neighbours RCD Espanyol in the Catalan derby away at Estadio Cornella-El Prat on Saturday night.
Barcelona will be aiming to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table, when they go head to head against local rivals RCD Espanyol away from home this weekend.
The reigning champions are a point ahead of second-placed Sevilla, following their 2-0 win over Villarreal this past weekend. They followed it up with a 4-1 demolition of Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey earlier this week and will be hoping to carry that momentum into the weekend’s derby.
Having fielded a much-changed side for the cup tie, manager Ernesto Valverde is set to recall a number of his first-team regulars that weren’t involved on Wednesday night. Marc-Andre ter Stegen should walk back into the side in goal, replacing Jasper Cillessen, who started the cup game earlier in the week.
Samuel Umtiti continues to be sidelined for the visitors and is likely to be out of action for a considerable amount of time due to a recurrence of his knee injury. And, the Barcelona boss spoke of the Frenchman in his pre-match presser.
“There’s not really been any big development on that front. I said last week we want to be optimistic about getting Umtiti back as soon as possible. Hopefully the treatment will work out well and when he comes back, hopefully soon, we can just carry on as we were before.”
With Sergi Roberto also still unavailable for the Blaugrana, Nelson Semedo should continue at right-back against Los Periquitos. But the rest of the defence will be in for a shuffle, as Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba are return after being rested in the tie against Cultural Leonesa.
Sergio Busquets made a substitute appearance in the Copa del Rey clash, but should feature from the get-go in the Catalan derby on Saturday. The Spaniard will be supported by Ivan Rakitic, who grabbed three assists in the midweek encounter.
Arthur Melo has not been included from the matchday squad, as he steps up his recovery from an adductor problem. Arturo Vidal should thus, complete the three-man midfield for the Catalans, having recovered from a bout of fever that kept him out in the midweek encounter.
Barcelona have also been boosted by the return of star striker Luis Suarez, who was sidelined for the last three games with a knee injury. Speaking of the Uruguayan international in his press conference, Valverde said, “He’s been having some treatment the last few days. We’re hoping he’ll be OK to play tomorrow. I don’t want to worry any more than we need to.”
Suarez should walk into the team on Saturday, with Lionel Messi set to be moved out to the right flank to accommodate his strike partner in the lineup. Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele will compete for the spot on the left flank, with the latter likely to get the nod owing to recent form.