Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets are among those who will return to the starting lineup when Barcelona take on Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.
Barcelona will be eager to end their La Liga campaign on a positive note, when they lock horns with Deportivo Alaves at the Mendizorrotza Stadium on Sunday evening. With the title race already done and dusted, Quique Setien could rotate his troops as he shifts his focus to the UEFA Champions League.
The big issue for the Barcelona manager is the fact that he barely has a full squad at his disposal, with just 16 players named in the travelling squad to take on Alaves. With three of those players being goalkeepers, Setien will only be able to sub in three outfield players at most.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 18, 2020
As for those who are missing for Barcelona, Gerard Pique, Junior Firpo and Ivan Rakitic are suspended due to accumulation of yellow cards. The likes of Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele are, meanwhile, unavailable due to their respective injuries.
The absence of Pique, Umtiti and Firpo means Ronald Araujo, Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alaba are certain starters in the Barcelona back-line. As for the right-back slot, Sergi Roberto should get the nod over Nelson Semedo. The defence will likely provide cover to Neto, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen expected to be rested against Alaves.
Araujo is one of the Barcelona B players who have been made available for the game against Alaves and during his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes), Setien was quizzed about banking on the reserve players.
“This is a decision that we have to think about and take as a whole. In today’s call we have 16 players, with three goalkeepers, there are no more players available. They could play but we must think about the consequences of an injury to these players which could weaken us thinking about the Champions League.”
Up ahead in midfield, Sergio Busquets ought to return to the lineup, coming in for the suspended Rakitic. Busquets will sit at the base of the three-man unit, reprising the Anchor Man role. Frenkie de Jong has returned only recently and is likely to be eased back into a regular role, which means Busquets will have Riqui Puig and Arturo Vidal for company in the middle of the park.
Finally, in attack, Luis Suarez is expected to return to the starting lineup. There is a feeling that Lionel Messi should be rested after playing every single game since the resumption of La Liga. But, the Barcelona captain is likely to start against Alaves, with Martin Braithwaite sitting this one out. Ansu Fati will be the third man in the front trio.
Barcelona Predicted XI: Neto; Roberto, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Puig, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Fati