The Asturian coach has annouced the 18 players who have been called up for this Sunday's match with the big news being Neymar Jr.'s return from suspension. The list includes: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Arda Turan, Iniesta, Luis Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto and Umtiti. Masip, André Gomes and Aleix Vidal have been left out by the manager and Mathieu is still recovering from injury.
Sunday is derby day in the city, with FC Barcelona at home to local rivals RCD Espanyol. In recent seasons, results in this fixture have been tipped heavily in favour of the home side, but the parakeets are enjoying a tremendous run of form. They don’t give up goals easily these days, but that’s just what Barça need to put some Christmas pressure on Liga leaders Real Madrid.
FC Barcelona face Espanyol at 8.45pm CET on Sunday at the Camp Nou in the sixteenth Liga fixture of the season. The blaugranas come into this match following a comprehensive victory against Osasuna in the league and Luis Enrique has emphasised the challenge that awaits his team: “Derby matches are different games and they are hugely important.”
"They're special games for the players and you need to control your emotions and set an example for the fans," he told a news conference on Saturday. "We've not analysed those recent games as a reference, though, because the players were different and there was a different manager. We've been focused on what they've done in more recent games. I saw their game [against Atletico Madrid] this morning. It's given me an idea of what we will have to do and what they will try to do against us."
FC Barcelona will step out on the Camp Nou pitch on Sunday with a slight change to the shirt they've been wearing until now. The team will not have the gold world champion badge on their shirt because hours before the Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers will be played in Yokohama. Therefore, FIFA will have crowned a new world champion, who will have the badge of honour on their shirts.
Umtiti explains how it went: "One day, after a viedo session, Luis Enrique spoke with the squad about some tactical aspects. When he finished, he asked if anyone wanted to add anything. He looked especially at the new players and those that don't speak the language as much. [Jeremy] Mathieu and I looked at each other and said we had nothing to add. Then, he looked at [Lucas] Digne and asked if he had anything to add. Lucas [Digne] had not understood what had been said, but to be polite, he said 'yes'. Everyone was waiting for him to add something but he said nothing... Everyone burst out laughing."
Darijo Srna appeared destined to be on his way to Barcelona during the winter transfer window, but he has hinted on social media that he may be about to snub the Catalan giants. Barca are in the market for full-back reinforcements as question marks hang over Aleix Vidal’s long-term future at Camp Nou. Srna posted on Instagram: “Follow your heart. Shakhtar forever.”