Lionel Messi remains suspended while Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong are set to return when Barcelona take on Elche on Sunday.
Barcelona will be eager to keep pace with rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid when they lock horns with Elche at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on Sunday evening. And, Ronald Koeman has greeted a mixed bag of updates on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Sergino Dest has recovered from a minor injury and has been included in the travelling squad by the Barcelona manager. In a further boost, Sergi Roberto has resumed training this week, although the Elche game has come too soon for him. The likes of Gerard Pique, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati, though, remain sidelined.
In another piece of bad news, Barcelona have lost their appeal to have Lionel Messi’s two-game ban overturned. The Barcelona captain, therefore, misses out against Elche. Meanwhile, Koeman talked about Roberto and Dest in his pre-match press conference.
“We hope no more injuries are sustained. Roberto will be with us soon, he trained with the group today. Dest has played many matches and he has helped us a lot. That’s difficult for a player of his age. We’ll see if he can play tomorrow or not.”
Dest could be preserved for bigger tests in the future and with that in mind, Oscar Mingueza is likely to get the nod on the right side of the Barcelona defence once again. On the opposite flank, Jordi Alba ought to come in for Junior Firpo, while Ronald Araujo will form the central defensive partnership with Clement Lenglet. In goal, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will replace Neto.
Up ahead in midfield, Sergio Busquets will return, with Miralem Pjanic making way at the base of the three-man unit. The veteran midfielder will have Frenkie de Jong and Pedri for company in the middle of the park, with Riqui Puig and Ilaix Moriba dropping out.
Finally, in attack, in Messi’s continued absence, Ousmane Dembele will get a chance to shine. The French international will be stationed on the left flank, with Antoine Griezmann taking his place on the right-wing. Martin Braithwaite will lead the line for Barcelona against Elche, with Francisco Trincao missing out.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Griezmann, Braithwaite, Dembele