La Liga is back in our lives on Saturday, and the Camp Nou doors will be opened as Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruña face each other in a pivotal league match for the Catalans giants.
Luis Enrique has injuries and international exhaustion to worry about, and with a massive Champions League match you've probably heard of coming up, he will use his rotation system again. With 19 healthy players available to play (actually 18, since Masip doesn't really count), Lucho could pick a number of different lineups and formations. The last time a heavy rotation happened, we lost to Alavés, and while Enrique isn't the type of coach who learns from his mistakes too often, he might have that result in mind when picking the team here.
That's why four key players are absolute locks to start: Ter Stegen, Piqué, Busquets and Neymar. MATS didn't play with Germany, Neymar got extra rest after playing once for Brazil, and Geri and Busi came back from Spain last Sunday. They are essential to the team and can easily play against both Depor and City without any problems in terms of fitness.
Four other players are very likely to start: Big Sammy Umtiti is back from injury and will give Javier Mascherano a chance to rest from his South American travels ahead of the City game; Lucas Digne rested two weeks during the international break and will replace Jordi Alba on the left-back position (PLEASE NO MATHIEU PLEASE NO MATHIEU PLEASE NO MATHIEU PLEASE NO MATHIEU PLEASE NO MATHIEU); André Gomes is starting to shine and will probably play again in midfield, this time with more freedom to attack thanks to Busi's presence; and Arda Turan is the greatest and should probably start to continue being the greatest.
There are three positions left, and those are the hardest to figure out: first, Sergi Roberto is out, and we have no idea who will replace him at right-back. Aleix Vidal is the natural, obvious choice, but his situation is a mess and it's impossible to know if Lucho plans to use him in this game. Sergi Palencia and Nili are Barça B options that could make their first team debut, and there's also the possibility of a three-at-the-back formation as we've discussed earlier this week.
My gut (and it's only my gut here, there's no info) says that Vidal will be given the last chance to impress the boss, and against a Depor team that will defend for most of the game, Aleix could impress with his attacking skills.
Secondly, we move to central midfield, and with Busquets/Gomes being very likely to start, they need a partner, and there are four main options: Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha and Denis Suarez. The easiest choice is Iniesta, but he played both international games and could be rested with Man City in mind. Rafinha looks the more likely after Andrés, but Denis played very well against Celta Vigo. Rakitic is healthy again, though, and since Enrique loves him, Ivan will probably play again.
Finally, let's go up front, and with Neymar and Arda almost certain to start, Lucho needs to pick a striker. "It's Luis Suárez, you idiot!!!", you might say, but remember he played 180 very physical minutes in terrible weather conditions with Uruguay, and he's absolutely exhausted. Paco Alcácer trained for a whole two weeks, and he's definitely in contention to be picked ahead of El Pistolero on Saturday. He won't, though, and is more likely to come in alongside Messi in the second half to replace Suárez and either Neymar or Arda. Leo will definitely not start, and will only play 20-30 minutes.
I've probably written 600 words just to see a completely different team on Saturday, but this is the possible Barça lineup against Depor:
You beautiful community also voted on your favorite starting eleven, and funnily enough, you agree with me! The only change from the lineup above is Andrés Iniesta in place of André Gomes, but the voting was very tight between Don (55.6%), Gomes (54.5%) and Rakitic (55.4%).