Riqui Puig should return to the starting lineup, while Sergi Roberto is likely to move to the right-back slot when Barcelona take on Real Valladolid.
Barcelona will be looking to keep up the pressure on arch rivals Real Madrid in the La Liga title race, when they face off against Real Valladolid at Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Saturday.
Ahead of the trip, manager Quique Setien has been hit with a couple of fresh fitness concerns as Samuel Umtiti and Arthur Melo will be unavailable. The duo join Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong on the sidelines, although the manager had a positive update regarding the Dutchman in his pre-match presser (h/t Barca Blaugranes).
“He’s in fairly good condition. We wondered whether to take him to play just 15-20 minutes but we thought the best thing to do is keep him here training. He was close but we preferred not to take the risk,” Setien said.
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Following the 1-0 win over Espanyol in the derby last time out, the manager is likely to make a couple of tweaks to the side. No change is expected in goal, however, with the excellent Marc-Andre ter Stegen the obvious starter. Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet, too, are certain starters in defence, while Jordi Alba should be retained at left-back.
Sergi Roberto has started in midfield of late and impressed, which has drawn praise from his manager. “The truth is we have a player who is so versatile that he can play in any position, that we’ve spoken about, and do a job there. His willingness is absolute, he will do any task asked. Coaches are relieved when we have these sort of players,” Setien said.
While Roberto has done very well in the centre of the park, he is likely to move into the right-back role on Saturday, with Nelson Semedo dropping to the bench. This would open up a spot in midfield, which should, in all likelihood, be occupied by academy ace Riqui Puig, who has impressed at every opportunity that has come his way.
The youngster ought to slot in on the left of the midfield three, with Ivan Rakitic starting on the right. Occupying the deepest position in the centre ought to be veteran star Sergio Busquets.
Antoine Griezmann has looked good of late, having finally been deployed in a more central role. So, he should start through the middle against Valladolid, alongside Luis Suarez, who was the match-winner against Espanyol. This would mean captain and talisman Lionel Messi is likely to operate in the hole behind the two forwards and look to pull the strings.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Puig; Messi; Suarez, Griezmann