Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique could be given a rest when Barcelona face off against Galatasaray in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16.
Barcelona will be aiming to take a step towards the Last Eight of the UEFA Europa League when they host Galatasaray in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie on Thursday night.
Heading into the game, Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez will have to deal with the absences of Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti and Alejandro Balde, who are out injured. Gavi is suspended after picking up his third yellow card in European competitions against Napoli, whereas Dani Alves has not been registered in the squad.
Speaking ahead of the game (h/t Barca Blaugranes), Xavi insisted that he would make some changes to his side to rest some of his regulars. “Tomorrow there will be changes. There are players who are tired, have niggles and knocks. So we need to take this chance to use fresh players and players who deserve to play. Tomorrow we will see some changes,” he said.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a guaranteed starter in goal for Barcelona. With Alves unavailable, Sergino Dest should start at right-back while Jordi Alba ought to continue on the left side, given there is no backup for him in the position. However, the manager could give Gerard Pique a breather on Thursday. Eric Garcia should replace him and line up alongside Ronald Araujo at the centre of the defence.
Sergio Busquets is another player who could do with a rest. The Barcelona captain should make way for academy graduate Nico Gonzalez against Galatasaray, although the youngster is likely to operate as one of the interior midfielders along with Pedri. Instead, it will be Frenkie de Jong who is expected to take up Busquets’s position at the base of the three-man midfield unit.
Moving into the attacking unit, Barcelona are likely to shuffle the pack a fair bit. Ousmane Dembele and Gavi started on the wings in the last game. The former is expected to make way for Adama Traore, who has impressed since returning to Camp Nou in January. Fellow winter arrival, Ferran Torres should replace the suspended Gavi on the left-wing.
Luuk de Jong will be hoping for a start in the centre-forward role, but manager Xavi will likely persist with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the No. 9 slot. Memphis Depay should get more minutes from the bench as he continues to improve his fitness levels after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Barcelona Predicted XI: ter Stegen, Dest, Araujo, Garcia, Alba, Nico, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Adama, Aubameyang, Torres