Lionel Messi remains unavailable for Barcelona ahead of their third La Liga game of the season against Osasuna at El Sadar on Saturday.

Barcelona will be aiming to make it back-to-back wins ahead of the international break when they face off against Osasuna at El Sadar on Saturday evening. Ernesto Valverde’s squad though, continues to be plagued by injuries ahead of this weekend’s fixture.

While the Barcelona boss was already down to his bare bones in attack, he will now also be without summer signing Junior Firpo for the trip to Osasuna. The absence of Junior means Jordi Alba remains a certain starter in the left-back slot.

On the opposite flank, there is no looking past Nelson Semedo for now, with Sergi Roberto now well and truly a midfield option. Semedo should thus, keep his place ahead of Moussa Wague. At the heart of the Barcelona defence, Gerard Pique should once again be partnered by Clement Lenglet, who has evidently usurped compatriot Samuel Umtiti for good.

The back four should protect Marc-Andre ter Stegen once again, with Inaki Pena being his backup, seeing as Neto continues to remain unavailable. The midfield unit is one where Valverde has all of his options at his disposal. So much so, that he has had to leave Carles Alena out of his squad to face Osasuna.

Among the six midfielders that have been picked by the Barcelona boss, Ivan Rakitic looks as if he is being phased out this season, while Arthur is only just making his way back to the fold. Arturo Vidal is in contention to start after scoring against Real Betis last weekend.

But, Valverde should keep faith in the same trio that produced the goods last time out. Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto will be the workhorses that will be providing the creative impetus in the middle of the park, with Sergio Busquets being the holding midfielder once again.Barcelona

Up ahead in attack, as iterated earlier, Valverde does not have much in way of options, with club captain Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele all sidelined with injuries. And, the Barcelona boss was explicitly quizzed on Messi during his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes).

“We hope that for the game against Valencia he [Messi] might be available. Then the Champions League starts and we hope to have him back for that but we will see how he progresses in these next two weeks.”

Messi’s absence means Carles Perez will start on the right side of the Barcelona attack once again. In Suarez’s stead, Antoine Griezmann will lead the line against Osasuna, with Rafinha starting on the left, leaving Ansu Fati as the only backup attacker on the bench.

Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, de Jong; Perez, Griezmann, Rafinha

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