Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has an important week ahead of him. A lot of decisions have to be made, and it could alter the immediate future of his team this season.
With a ridiculous stretch of six games in 18 days, caused by a two-week international break, the boss will need to make decisions on how he will use his squad in the best way possible, not only to win all six matches, but also not to cause injuries or long-term issues for Barça.
Here's just a few questions Lucho will have to answer this week:
Who will be the starting goalkeeper?
The competition is now for real, as Marc-André Ter Stegen is finally fit to put on uniform. Claudio Bravo has been in great form recently, and he's yet to concede a goal in La Liga. Stegen is the younger, more promising player. Bravo is the more experienced guy. Both are great keepers. But only one can be the definitve starter.
Just a tip, Lucho: 75% of the Barça Blaugranes readers have voted for Stegen. Should make it easier on you. You're welcome, boss. Now give me a damn treble.
Which right-back will get the starting job? What about Douglas?
This is an interesting choice. Barça has three right-backs: Dani Alves, Montoya and Douglas. Only two will get named for each match, if that. All three stayed in Barcelona during the international break, so Enrique got a good chance to look at all of them. He'll have six training sessions this week to decide whether Alves will indeed be the starter for the rest of the year, or at least until the end of the year.
What about Douglas, then? He's adapting quickly to the environment and the group, with the help of his Brazilian buddies. When will he make his debut? With that crazy stretch in the next two weeks, we might get to see Douglas playing his first match as a Blaugrana.
Is Piqué-Mathieu the definitive center-back pairing?
Thomas Vermaelen is expected to be available for the match against Bilbao, and consequently all the other games. The former Arsenal captain is a personal favorite of Luis Enrique, and he will get his chances. However, Jérémy Mathieu has been very good so far. Piqué is playing for sure. It will be interesting to see which of the left-footed CBs will get the job alongside Gerard.
Will Munir and Sandro remain with the first team?
The 19-year-olds have been hugely important for Barcelona since the pre-season, and they have impressed a lot. They are expected to stay until Luis Suárez comes back from his ban. But what then?
The training sessions after Wednesday, when all the squad is together, will give us a better idea of where Lucho wants to take his team.
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