Barcelona head into a busy run of fixtures with Olympiakos at Camp Nou on Wednesday in the Champions League, before Malaga visit on Saturday and then the club head to Murcia in the Copa del Rey the following Tuesday.
On paper at least, these are some of the kinder fixtures Barcelona will face, and as such it’s the perfect opportunity for Ernesto Valverde to hand some players a rare start.
The Barca coach admitted after the draw against Atletico Madrid that Lionel Messi was “tired” after his international exploits, and while he will be expected to feature on Wednesday, Saturday’s home game against bottom side Malaga and the Copa del Rey might be the perfect time to give the Argentine a breather.
There are also plenty of players pushing for a start, but perhaps top of the list is Denis Suarez, who suprisingly did not even get a look in against Atletico.
The 23-year-old has two goals and two assists in six La Liga appearances this season (only two of which have been starts) and has looked bright whenever he’s appeared.
He’s not alone too, Sergi Roberto came on and made the difference against Atletico on Saturday, crossing for Luis Suarez to equalise, and must surely be a contender for a midfield position.
Paulinho must also surely be in Valverde’s thoughts, and it’s testament to him how quickly he has changed opinion, after his signing was widely derided over the summer.
The Brazilian adds bite and drive to the midfield and, like Suarez, already has two goals in just three starts for Barca.
There’s also the small matter of Gerard Deulofeu, who looked set to be a regular at the start of the season, but seems to have lost his way.
A brief cameo against Atletico may have helped change Valverde’s mind, and he would inject some pace and width that was largely lacking at the Wanda Metropolitano.
These games also offer the chance for Andres Iniesta to have a rest and for Ivan Rakitic to be taken out of the firing line, after struggling at the weekend.
With Barcelona over-reliant on Messi for goals, Valverde needs to find the creativity and spark that his side have struggled to produce this season and these fixtures offer the chance for players to state their case.
Who would you like to see given a chance in the next few games? Let us know your thoughts, starting line-ups and predictions in the comments below!