Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong are among the players who are set to return for Barcelona when they take on Napoli on Saturday.
Barcelona will be eager to confirm their place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, when they play hosts to Napoli at Camp Nou in their Round of 16 second leg on Saturday. Heading into the fixture, Quique Setien has a mixed bag of updates on the team news front.
While the Barcelona manager has a near-full strength squad at his disposal, he will be bereft of the services of Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal due to suspension. The only other players who will not be available against Napoli are Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele.
Meanwhile, Arthur has been omitted from the matchday squad as well, owing to his off-field issues with Barcelona. The good news, though, is that Antoine Griezmann has completed his recovery from a minor injury and is back in contention, while the likes of Clement Lenglet, Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong seem to have proved their fitness as well.
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During his pre-match press conference (h/t Barca Blaugranes), Setien was asked about the starting lineup he will name against Napoli. The Barcelona manager, though, revealed little in reply, saying, “The lineup for tomorrow has been decided a few sessions ago. The positions of certain players could vary, but the lineup has indeed been decided.”
In Barcelona’s final La Liga game, Setien made a number of changes, with some being forced. One of the shuffles saw Marc-Andre ter Stegen being rested, with Neto getting a rare start. Against Napoli, though, ter Stegen should return in goal for the hosts.
A couple of changes are expected in defence as well, with Gerard Pique available after missing the aforementioned game due to suspension. Pique will take his place at the heart of the Barcelona defence, with Lenglet pairing up with him. Jordi Alba is a certain starter on the left flank, with Nelson Semedo returning in the right-back slot.
Up ahead in midfield, Busquets’s suspension and Ivan Rakitic’s availability means the Croat should sit at the base, playing the Anchor Man role. Riqui Puig has been quite impressive in the post-lockdown period and ought to be retained in the middle of the park. But, with Vidal suspended as well, de Jong should return as the second change in midfield.
Finally, in attack, Griezmann’s availability means he is expected to be handed a start. Griezmann should replace Ansu Fati on the left side of the Barcelona attack, with Luis Suarez and captain Lionel Messi keeping hold of their places in the final third.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; de Jong, Rakitic, Puig; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann