Abel Ruiz is set to make his full debut in the Barcelona first-team when they face Eibar at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Sunday.
Barcelona will bring the curtains down on another memorable La Liga campaign when they take on Eibar at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Sunday evening. And, Ernesto Valverde has some big selection headaches to deal with ahead of their final league game of the season.
Managing a squad already riddled with injury troubles, the Barcelona boss, during his pre-match press conference, was asked about whether he is going to rest some of his key players ahead of next weekend’s Copa del Rey final against Valencia.
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Valverde replied (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “Our idea is to keep active. We don’t want the cup final to be too far away from the other games. We want to keep our rhythm going, so I want the players to play who are going to play in the final, more or less.”
Judging by Valverde’s comments, he might not make many alterations to the side that started against Getafe, although a few changes might still be in the offing. As far as injuries are concerned, the problems start right at the back, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen sidelined with a minor knee injury.
In his stead, Jasper Cillessen will keep his place in goal, in what could be his final league game for Barcelona. Inaki Pena ought to be his deputy. The defensive line should see just one shuffle, with Nelson Semedo coming in for Sergi Roberto. Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba should all keep their places in the back four.
Up ahead in midfield, Arthur remains sidelined due to a hip complaint, while Rafinha Alcantara is a long-term absentee. That leaves Valverde with four first-team regulars at his disposal, in addition to Barcelona B player Riqui Puig.
Puig though, is unlikely to start, while Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic should hold on to their places. The only change in the middle of the park should see Carles Alena coming into the side to replace Sergio Busquets, with Rakitic starting as the deepest of the three midfielders.
Meanwhile, two more Barcelona B players have found a place in the travelling squad. Abel Ruiz, who made his first-team debut as a second half substitute last week, is in the squad once again, and so is 21-year-old winger Carles Perez.
While Perez is unlikely to find a place in the starting lineup, the absence of Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng means Valverde might hand Ruiz his full debut against Eibar. And, with Lionel Messi and Malcom the only other first-team players available, the duo are certain starters.