Lionel Messi is set for his first start of the season while Junior Firpo will make his full debut for Barcelona when they take on Granada at Los Carmenes.

Barcelona will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they lock horns with Granada at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes on Saturday night. Ernesto Valverde, though, has had some bad news to deal with on the injury front ahead of his side’s latest La Liga fixture.

Jordi Alba is sidelined for the better part of the next month after sustaining a hamstring injury in the UEFA Champions League group game against Borussia Dortmund this past midweek. And, in the absence of the Spaniard, Junior Firpo is set to make his full debut for Barcelona, with Valverde iterating the same during his pre-match press conference.

“The injury to Jordi Alba means that Junior Firpo has a good opportunity tomorrow against Granada. It’s certainly a great test now Alba is injured, he will have to seize the opportunity.”

There could be one more change in the defensive line, with Sergi Roberto finally returning to the right-back slot, thanks in large part to the struggles of Nelson Semedo. Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet should resume their central defensive partnership while Marc-Andre ter Stegen will take his place in the Barcelona goal, buoyed by his heroics against Dortmund earlier this week.

Up ahead in midfield, Valverde has all of his resources at his disposal, which has forced him to leave Carles Alena out of the travelling squad once again. Among those that are part of the squad to face Granada, Frenkie de Jong and Arturo Vidal could miss out, with the former being handed a rest after playing every game this season so far.

In de Jong’s stead, Ivan Rakitic is expected to make his first start this term, with Sergio Busquets and Arthur completing the midfield trifecta. Another player set to make his first start of the season is Lionel Messi, who came off the bench at Dortmund for his maiden appearance of the campaign. And, Valverde heaped praise on the Barcelona captain during his presser.

“Messi played well against Dortmund, despite having been out for a while. We hope that as he gets more minutes, he gives us a lot – like he always has. His presence changes things in the attack. We will see who will play against Granada.”Barcelona

Messi should take his place on the right side of the three-pronged Barcelona attack, with Ansu Fati having to make way for the Barcelona skipper. Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann are certain starters upfront, with Carles Perez being a backup option on the bench alongside Fati.

Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann

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