Luuk de Jong is set for a rare start while Jordi Alba and Memphis Depay are ruled out as Barcelona face off against CA Osasuna in La Liga this weekend.
Barcelona will be raring to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns with CA Osasuna away at Estadio El Sadar in the 2021/22 La Liga on Sunday afternoon.
Having lost to Real Betis and Bayern Munich over the last week, the Catalans are in a difficult position and need to turn things around with a victory. However, manager Xavi Hernandez will have to make do without two of his key men in Jordi Alba and Memphis Depay, both of whom are the latest players to get injured. They join Ansu Fati, Pedri, Sergi Roberto, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero on the sidelines.
Providing an update in his pre-match presser (h/t Barca Blaugranes), Xavi said: “Now Jordi, but it is a small thing and we hope to recover him for Elche. Memphis has played every minute, in Munich, at 3-0, I had thought about making changes. We have not been able to rotate. Look at his numbers this season. He has played every game for Barça and also for the Dutch national team, it’s been a demanding schedule.”
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has come in for a lot of criticism after the defeat, will continue in goal and look to bounce back strongly. Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo should start at the heart of the defence while Sergino Dest should move to right-back, after starting higher up the pitch last time out. With Alba ruled out of the game, youngster Alejandro Balde should get an opportunity to start at left-back.
Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets is a nailed-on starter at the base of the three-man midfield at El Sadar. Nico Gonzalez, Frenkie de Jong and Gavi will vie for the remaining two slots in the middle of the park. The latter could be given a breather on Sunday, though, given that the 17-year-old has been playing relentlessly, meaning Frenkie de Jong and Nico get the nod.
Moving forward, the Blaugrana have major selection headaches in the final third, given the number of injuries. With Depay being ruled out, Xavi has no other option left for the No. 9 role beyond out-of-favour striker Luuk de Jong.
Speaking of the Dutchman, the Barcelona manager said: “He is an exemplary professional. He is training very well, he is different from Memphis and the others, but he can give us different solutions. We have to adapt to injuries and he is one of the solutions we have in attack. We have to take advantage of him.”
Luuk de Jong looks set to start centre-forward, while the wide areas are likely to be occupied by youngster Abde Ezzalzouli and the dangerous Ousmane Dembele, who will have added responsibility on Sunday.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen, Dest, Pique, Araujo, Balde, F. de Jong, Busquets, Nico, Dembele, L. de Jong, Abde.