Arturo Vidal and Samuel Umtiti are in contention to return to the starting lineup as Barcelona gear up to host Alaves on Saturday.
Ernesto Valverde will be eager to inspire his side to get back to winning ways after a disappointing El Clasico at home when they host Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on Sunday.
The Barcelona manager attended his pre-match press conference ahead of the game and shed light on several aspects of his team while also commenting on Alaves and the kind of threat they will bring to Camp Nou.
There were several concerns over Sergio Busquets’s unavailability as the Spanish international did not feature in the Clasico after suffering from fever. However, when asked about the 31-year old midfielder, Valverde was hopeful and said, “He trained normally today and he no longer has a fever. Tomorrow he’ll be better and we think he can play.”
But, with everything said and done, Valverde might not start Busquets against Alaves and instead give him a go in the second half to get him back in the groove and be match ready from the next fixture.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been the mainstay under the bar for Barcelona, while Nelson Semedo, who made his return against Real Madrid, may start again at right-back, with Jordi Alba keeping his place on the left, despite having an off day in the Clasico. Samuel Umtiti might come into the starting lineup, replacing Clement Lenglet, with the latter being rested.
In midfield, Ivan Rakitic should continue to slot in for Sergio Busquets and the Croat will be partnered by Arturo Vidal, who is likely to start ahead of Sergio Roberto and Carles Alena in midfield. Meanwhile, Frenkie de Jong will keep his place and play in a more advanced role.
Barcelona were struggling to hold the ball in midfield against Real Madrid and Vidal’s inclusion in the second half somewhat changed the dynamics of the game in the middle of the park. It allowed Barcelona to hold possession, string a few passes and stretch Los Blancos, which is why the Chilean midfielder is likely to start against Alaves.
In attack, the first-choice trio retain their places, with Lionel Messi playing from the right and gradually dropping deep to the opposition defenders. Antoine Greizmann will feature on the left flank and interchange his position with Luis Suarez, who tends to run in behind the defenders in pockets of space near the final third.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Vidal, Rakitic, de Jong; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann