Lionel Messi could start while Sergino Dest could replace Oscar Mingueza in the lineup when Barcelona take on Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana final.
Barcelona will be aiming to lift their first-ever trophy under new manager Ronald Koeman when they lock horns against Athletic Bilbao in the finals of the Supercopa de Espana at Estadio La Caratuja de Seville on Sunday night.
Ahead of the game, manager Ronald Koeman is once again sweating over the fitness of captain and talisman Lionel Messi. The Argentine superstar missed the semi-final win over Real Sociedad due to an injury, but with him returning to training on the eve of the game, the manager sounded hopeful of being able to call upon him on Sunday.
“Yesterday, he trained on his own and today, we’ll see how he is to start with. He’ll have the final say. He knows his body. We’re hopeful that he’ll play. If you have the best [players], you have a better chance of winning, and even more so if you have the best player in the world,” Koeman said in his pre-match press conference.
Apart from the Messi situation, Barcelona will once again be deprived of the services of Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique and Philippe Coutinho, all of whom have been out injured for quite some time now. Koeman is unlikely to make many changes to the side that got past Sociedad on penalties in the semi-final.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who was brilliant in the last game, is an automatic pick between the sticks. Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet should once again form the core of the Barcelona defence while there is no looking past Jordi Alba in the left-back slot.
There should be one change at the back, though, with Sergino Dest in line to return at right-back after missing the last game against Real Sociedad with a knock. The USMNT international should come in at the expense of academy product Oscar Mingueza.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets seems to be the preferred option ahead of Miralem Pjanic and should get the nod against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. The veteran star will be partnered by Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, who have been Barcelona’s best players in recent weeks.
Given what is at stake, Koeman is likely to thrust Messi into the starting XI against Athletic. The Barcelona skipper should start as the false-nine, replacing Martin Braithwaite who will drop to the bench. Messi will be flanked by the duo of Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, de Jong; Dembele, Messi, Griezmann