Ousmane Dembele is likely to start along with new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when Barcelona face off against Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona will be aiming to break into the top four of the La Liga standings when they face off against arch-rivals Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon.
Heading into the game, manager Xavi Hernandez has several issues to cope with as Ansu Fati, Memphis Depay, Clement Lenglet, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Eric Garcia, and Alejandro Balde all ruled out with injuries. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore, who arrived late in the January transfer window, are available for selection.
Speaking of the pair in his pre-match presser (h/t Barca Blaugranes), Xavi said: “Both of them have trained well, probably Adama is in better shape. Auba suffered Covid-19 and has been working individually. Tomorrow we’ll decide but they are both available. They are excited and we want to see them in the squad.”
Xavi will set his team up in the usual 4-3-3 formation with Marc-Andre ter Stegen manning their goal. The onus of keeping Luis Suarez quiet will fall onto the shoulders of Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo. Dani Alves should get the nod at right-back ahead of Sergino Dest and Oscar Mingueza, while Jordi Alba remains the only choice for the left-back slot.
Captain Sergio Busquets is nailed on to start at the base of the Barcelona midfield. His performance will be crucial to providing the Catalan giants with control in the game. Frenkie de Jong and Pedri should take up the remaining two slots in the middle of the park, relegating La Masia graduates Nico Gonzalez and Gavi to the bench.
The big news, though, is that Ousmane Dembele has been named in the squad for the game after talks of him being banished from the first team for the rest of the season. Speaking on the Frenchman’s situation, Xavi said: “We haven’t found a solution for Ousmane Dembele. Circumstances have changed, he has a contract.
“He’s a player of Barca and we have decided he’s part of the squad list. We have to use him. He can help us. He’s been a good professional whether he’s been involved or not. So that’s the club’s decision. We will use him when I think he can be useful. He’s a part of the team.” The Frenchman is in line to start on Sunday but will be in for a hostile reception by the Camp Nou faithful.
Ferran Torres has made a bright start to life as a Barcelona player and will hope to continue in the same vein of form when he faces Atletico. Torres and Dembele ought to occupy the flanks for the Blaugrana, while Aubameyang gets the nod as the centre-forward ahead of Luuk de Jong, despite the Dutchman’s impressive form in the last month. Adama Traore, Ez Abde, Ferran Jutgla will be options on the bench.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen, Alves, Pique, Araujo, Alba, de Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Torres, Aubameyang, Dembele.