It's time to begin the life without Lionel Messi for Barcelona. The club superstar is out for two months (or ten matches), and the Blaugrana will have a difficult time figuring out what to do to replace such a talented player, mainly because Luis Enrique has more injuries to cope with. It's hard enough for him to find a replacement, and the job gets harder when the opponent is Bayer Leverkusen.
The second match of the UEFA Champions League group stage is already crucial for the defending champions, since they only got a draw in the competition owner against AS Roma a few weeks ago. The Italians face the weak BATE Borisov and should get a win, which puts the pressure on Barça to beat a tough adversary and contend for the top spot in the group. The natural replacement to Messi is Rafinha Alcântara, but he's also injured, which makes it almost impossible to figure out what the next starting lineup will be.
Here's a projection of what we might see on Tuesday:
Alves - Piqué - Mathieu - Alba
Rakitic - Busquets - Iniesta
Munir - Suárez - Neymar
Lucho tends to get creative in certain situations, but the team has been shaky so far, so it might be best to go with the safe approach. Without Rafinha, the next likely guy to replace Messi is Munir El-Haddadi. He hasn't been able to live up to the hype just yet, but he had a competent game against Las Palmas last weekend, so Enrique is probably going to give him a little sequence of games to see if the kid can finally evolve a bit. Iniesta was rested again on Saturday, and he will get a start. Jordi Alba is likely to come back from his neck issue, with Dani Alves returning to the full-back spot after a day off.
How are you feeling about this, Blaugranes? What do you think the starting lineup will be?