Barcelona will be without key men Gerard Pique, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi for their trip to Estadio El Alcoraz, where they face off against Huesca.

Barcelona will be aiming to inch further closer towards lifting the La Liga crown with a victory, when they lock horns with bottom side Huesca away from home on Saturday afternoon.

Following their 2-0 win over second-placed Atletico Madrid last weekend, the title race is all but over. But, Barcelona will be keen on avoiding any mishaps in the business end of the season and look to put away the bottom feeders. However, they will have to do so without a string of their first-team regulars.

Barcelona will miss out on the services of defensive leader Gerard Pique, who is suspended for the tie for accumulation of cards. Along with the former Spanish international, Thomas Vermaelen also misses out with an injury, while utility man Sergi Roberto has been ruled out with a knock.

Roberto’s absence means Nelson Semedo should start again at right-back, after having played the whole ninety minutes against Manchester United on Wednesday night, as will be the case for fellow defenders Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba. With Pique ruled out of the game, Valverde should recall Samuel Umtiti to complete the backline in front of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

With the all-important Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester United coming up on Tuesday, Valverde has decided to rest midfield mainstay Sergio Busquets. His place in the starting lineup is most likely to be taken up by Arturo Vidal.

There will be another enforced change in the middle of the park for Barcelona as Ivan Rakitic is ruled out with fever. Highly-rated academy graduate Carles Alena should get the nod in the Croatian international’s absence this weekend. Arthur could also be given a breather by the Barcelona boss, handing Philippe Coutinho a start in his preferred role in the midfield.

Wholesale changes are expected in attack on Saturday as Valverde has rested superstar Lionel Messi for the contest, after the Barcelona captain came off worse in a coming together with Chris Smalling in the Manchester United game. His partner-in-crime Luis Suarez is suspended for the game as well, after his booking in the Atletico Madrid clash.

The superstar duo’s absence should open up the opportunity for Brazilian attacker Malcom to feature from the right flank against Huesca, while January signing Kevin-Prince Boateng is set for a rare start in place of Suarez.

Ousmane Dembele is back to full fitness after missing the last four league games with an injury. Speaking of the Frenchman in his pre-match presser, Valverde said (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “Tomorrow is important for Dembele, not in terms of being important for the Manchester United game. We need to really focus on getting the three points we need.”

In all likelihood, Dembele should start on the left side of the attacking trident for Barcelona against Huesca on Saturday.

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