Xavi Hernandez is set to ring in the changes when Barcelona face Villarreal in a dead rubber affair on Sunday.
Having secured the runner up spot in La Liga, Barcelona will be aiming to end their 2021/22 campaign on a positive note when they play hosts to Villarreal on Sunday.
Barcelona have nothing to play for as they have a healthy five-point lead over Atletico Madrid. And with many players in contention to leave the club at the end of the season, Xavi could offer starts to a host of fringe players while resting his key members ahead of a trip to Australia.
Although Jordi Alba and Ronald Araujo have been included in the squad, neither is likely to start as Xavi might hand youngster Alejandro Balde another start at left-back, while Oscar Mingueza and Clement Lenglet could continue at the heart of the Barcelona defence on the back of their solid performance in the last game.
Frenkie de Jong is back in contention in midfield after serving a suspension last time out. We expect the Dutchman to start this encounter, as he is going to play a key role in controlling the game in the middle of the park, especially if Xavi plans to hand Sergio Busquets a breather.
When asked about de Jong’s future, Xavi said, “For me, he is a great player. I think he can be part of an important era of the club. We’ll see what the situation is, but I like Frenkie.”
Frenkie de Jong is likely to be accompanied by Gavi in the middle of the park, with Riqui Puig also getting a start, in what could be his final game for Barcelona before he leaves the club at the end of the season.
Another player who might play his final game for Barcelona is Ousmane Dembele. Speaking to media ahead of the game, Xavi accepted that the Frenchman could leave the club this summer, although he is hopeful the player will sign a renewal.
“Yes, it is possible [that it will be Dembele’s last game with Barcelona]. Or he can continue with the team. I am optimistic and I hope it will continue. He’s been fantastic in many matches and I like him,” said the Barcelona coach.
Dembele remains a guaranteed starter on the right flank, while Memphis Depay should get the nod ahead of Ferran Torres on the opposite wing. The two should play a key role in offering the supply for the main striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, although it won’t be surprising to see Luuk de Jong making an appearance.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Alves, Mingueza, Lenglet, Balde; Puig, de Jong, Gavi; Dembele, Aubameyang, Depay