Sergio Aguero is in line for his first Barcelona start, but Ansu Fati could miss out when the Catalans face Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday in La Liga.
Barcelona will be looking to return to winning ways after the defeat to Real Madrid at the weekend when they lock horns with newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano at Estadio de Vallecas this midweek.
Leading up to the game, Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has been handed a couple of fresh injury headaches. Frenkie de Jong injured himself in the weekend fixture and has been ruled out of Wednesday’s contest. Ansu Fati also picked up a knock against Real Madrid, and even though he has been named in the squad, the Spaniard is a doubt for the game, Koeman confirmed.
Speaking in his pre-match presser (h/t Barca Blaugranes), the Dutch tactician said, “Ansu had some pain but not related to the injury he had. He’s still a doubt for Rayo. He’s in the squad, but we will make a decision on Wednesday regarding if he travels with us or not.” Apart from the teenage prodigy, Ousmane Dembele, Pedri, Ronald Araujo, and Martin Braithwaite remain unavailable.
“We are all concerned about the injuries we have had. It could be that Pedri will be out for a bit longer. We have to be concerned about that. That’s why we don’t put a date on returns for Dembele, Pedri and Araujo. We talk about it every day. We know exactly what’s going on,” the Barcelona manager said about the injuries in the squad.
Barcelona will set up in a 4-3-3 formation as usual on Wednesday night against Rayo Vallecano, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen lining up between the sticks. The backline is unlikely to see any changes with Oscar Mingueza, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia and Jordi Alba all set to retain their spots in the starting XI.
However, there will be an enforced change in the middle of the park due to de Jong’s injury. While Sergi Roberto would be an option, Philippe Coutinho might get the nod ahead of the Spaniard after the former Liverpool man looked bright in his cameo against Real Madrid. Sergio Busquets and Gavi, meanwhile, are nailed on for the remaining two spots in the midfield.
Moving into the attacking unit, Sergio Aguero, who scored his first goal for Barcelona in the weekend clash, is in line to make his first start against Rayo Vallecano. When quizzed about the Argentine’s condition, Koeman dropped a hint about him starting, as he said, “He has been training for two weeks. He’s not ready for 90 minutes yet, but he’s ready to start a game or play the second half.”
Memphis Depay, whose form has declined of late, will be retained on the left flank for Barcelona. Considering that Ansu Fati has only recently returned from a long-term injury, he might not be risked on Wednesday, with Sergino Dest expected to continue on the right wing at Estadio de Vallecas.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen, Mingueza, Pique, Garcia, Alba, Gavi, Busquets, Coutinho, Dest, Aguero, Depay