Jordi Alba is back from injury but the injured Pedri should make way for fellow teenager Gavi when Barcelona face Atletico Madrid in a high-stakes clash.
Barcelona will be aiming to return to winning ways when they lock horns with reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night in matchweek eight.
Heading into the game, manager Ronald Koeman finds himself under the pump, with his job hanging by the slimmest of threads following the midweek loss to SL Benfica in the UEFA Champions League. Addressing the media on the eve of the contest (h/t Barca Blaugranes), the Dutchman responded to the speculations about his future.
“I’m still staying, yes. I’ve learned the president was here this morning but I’ve not seen him. The club have said nothing to me. I have ears, I have eyes. I already know they leak a lot of things, but they’ve not said anything to me,” the 58-year-old said.
But in what could be his final game for the Catalan giants, Koeman will have to make do without midfield prodigy Pedri, who has picked up a thigh injury. However, there is some good news as left-back Jordi Alba, who is back from his injury and has been selected in the squad for the trip to the capital. Sergio Aguero, Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite remain sidelined.
Having opted for a three-man defence in the last game against Benfica, Koeman is expected to revert to a 4-3-3 formation on Saturday night, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen manning the goal. Ronald Araujo has become a permanent fixture in the side and should start again, with Gerard Pique likely to be his partner ahead of Eric Garcia.
With Alba back, he should slot in at left-back, allowing Sergino Dest to move to his natural right-back position after having featured on the left side on the defence in the past few games. Sergio Busquets will be the defensive midfielder yet again, shielding the backline with young Nico Gonzalez likely to get some minutes off the bench.
Frenkie de Jong is a certain starter in the centre of the park for Barcelona against Atletico. Pedri’s injury does open up a spot in the side, which should fall to fellow teenager Gavi, who has shown a lot of promise in the handful of his performances he has made in the ongoing campaign.
Moving into the attacking unit, Luuk de Jong just does not seem to be cutting it for Barcelona and should be dropped from the lineup. Instead Memphis Depay ought to start in the No. 9 role for Barcelona against Atleti. Ansu Fati, who has gotten some minutes under his belt in the last couple of games after returning from injury, should feature from kick-off on the left flank, with Yusuf Demir on the opposite wing.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen, Dest, Araujo, Pique, Alba, de Jong, Busquets, Gavi, Demir, Depay, Ansu Fati.