Barcelona manager Quique Setien will look to rest some key players against Eibar with one eye on the Champions League clash against Napoli.
Barcelona play hosts to SD Eibar on Saturday, hoping to continue their winning run in La Liga. But, manager Quique Setien is without first-choice left-back Jordi Alb,a who picked up an injury last week against Getafe.
The squad list looks refreshed with the inclusion of Sergio Akieme and Martin Braithwaite. The former is the first-choice left-back for Barcelona B, while Braithwaite is Barcelona’s latest signing which became official this Thursday.
The Danish international arrived from Leganes after Barcelona triggered his release clause, after taking permission to sign a forward from the Spanish Football Federation. Clement Lenglet also returns from suspension and is expected to slot in at the heart of the Barcelona defence, pairing up with Gerard Pique.
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Setien will have to keep in mind the midweek game against Napoli and choose his team according to that. That said, it is expected that Nelson Semedo will start at right-back for Barcelona after not getting minutes the previous weekend.
A change in midfield would hardly be surprising. When facing the Basque outfit, who will, in all probability start the quick Fabian Orellana as the no. 10 in a 4-2-3-1, Setien could rest Sergio Busquets, both as a tactical measure and to give him rest.
Arturo Vidal should ideally come into the side in place of Busquets. Frenkie de Jong, though, is likely to start at the base of the three-man midfield, with Vidal and Arthur occupying spaces to his right and left, respectively.
New signing Braithwaite could feature in this game as well, but he is not anticipated to start. Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann will likely get the nod in the three-pronged attack over him. Barcelona are without key forwards Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez, both of whom are out with long-term injuries.
Speaking on the possibility of starting Martin Braithwaite against Eibar, Setien said during his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes), “I’m sure we’ll see him as a starter in some games, but for now it’s probably a bit premature.”
“He comes to us in ideal form, but there are a lot of concepts to our play that we have to explain to him and that he has to understand. We’re sure that he will help us a lot, he arrives with excitement and desire and we hope he can help us a lot.”
This almost certainly assures that Braithwaite will come on as a substitute, if at all, coming in for one of the starters in attack, should Setien decide to give them a breather.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo; Vidal, de Jong, Arthur; Messi, Griezmann, Fati