Luis Suarez is set to make his comeback from a long injury layoff when Barcelona face off against RCD Mallorca in their first La Liga game since resumption.
Barcelona will resume the defence of their La Liga title this weekend against RCD Mallorca at the ‘Visit Mallorca’ Estadi, as the 2019-20 campaign returns to action after a three-month hiatus.
Sitting at the top of the La Liga table, with just a two-point lead over rivals Real Madrid, the Catalans will be aware that they can’t afford a slip-up in the first game upon the resumption of the season. Heading into the game, manager Quique Setien will have a near full-strength squad at his disposal.
Ousmane Dembele remains sidelined with an injury for Barcelona, whereas Nelson Semedo will be unable to take part after he breached La Liga’s coronavirus protocol earlier in the week. They will also be without defensive mainstay Clement Lenglet, who is out with a suspension.
With Semedo not involved, Sergi Roberto ought to start at right-back on Saturday night, while Jordi Alba should get the nod on the left side ahead of Junior Firpo. Gerard Pique is a guaranteed starter at the heart of the Barcelona defence, while Samuel Umtiti should be the one partnering him in Lenglet’s absence.
Setien, however, expressed some concerns over the Frenchman’s lack of rhythm, as he has only recently recovered from another muscle problem. Speaking in his pre-match presser, the manager said (h/t Barca Blaugranes).
“He was practically the only player who has gone a while without training with the group due to the muscle problem he suffered. He is doing well but obviously lacks the rhythm of his team-mates.”
Coming to the midfield department, Setien has no fitness concerns and will have some tough decisions to make. Sergio Busquets should be a certain starter at the base of the three-man midfield unit for Barcelona, whereas marquee signing Frenkie de Jong also ought to feature.
Arthur Melo, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic will be battling for the remaining slot. The Brazilian, who has put behind his fitness issues, should be the one to start ahead of the two veteran midfielders.
The big news for Barcelona comes in the form of the return of star striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has been out injured since January but is now fit and ready to go, the manager confirmed.
“Luis Suarez will surely be a starter. Maybe he won’t play the entire match, we won’t take the risk. He is fit but obviously after five months, he will need some matches to find his best form.”
With the Uruguayan set to start as the centre-forward, Antoine Griezmann should slot in on the left flank, while captain Lionel Messi should occupy the right wing on Saturday.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Arthur, Busquets, de Jong; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann