clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Luis Enrique will probably rotate Barcelona's team against Alavés, which is actually great news

That means Gala XI to warm up for PSG!

CA Osasuna v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona return to La Liga action on Saturday, away from home against Deportivo Alavés. An awesome coincidence in the schedule put together the two Copa del Rey finalists against each other this weekend, so we'll have a little preview of what's coming in May.

The Blaugrana currently trail Real Madrid by just one point in the league table, but the Blancos still have two games in hand, which means they're theoretically seven points ahead. That's a big gap with only 17 games to go, but Barça won't stop trying to win the league until they're mathematically out of the title race. Dropping points is not a possibility anymore, and winning against Alavés is vital.

There are a few factors that make this a very difficult match for Barça, though: Alavés already beat the Catalans at Camp Nou in the third game of the season, they'll play at home where they've only lost twice all season, and Barça will play the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain just three days later, in Paris.

Such a difficult European trip coming up will certainly force coach Luis Enrique to make some heavy rotations to the squad that faced Atlético Madrid last Tuesday, but that is actually great news for Barça fans. That means we'll probably see almost the entire Gala XI, the best possible Blaugrana starting lineup, facing El Glorioso on Saturday.

Here's why: Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta came back from injury against Atlético but are not in perfect shape to face PSG yet, which means they'll most likely start against Alavés and play at least 70 minutes, if not the entire match, as a way to increase their fitness level ahead of the trip to France. There's no real undisputed player alongside Busi and Iniesta in midfield, so it's either Denis Suarez or Ivan Rakitic against Alavés, with the other facing PSG. André Gomes gets a rest.

Up front, Neymar didn't play against Atlético due to suspension, so he will definitely be starting alongside Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi. Luisito was rested last week against Athletic Bilbao, which means he's in pretty good condition to play on Saturday and on Tuesday. Messi is never rested, so he'll play again.

With midfield and attack intact, the only changes to the Gala XI should happen on the back line. Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti have played big minutes lately, so one of them will surely be replaced by Jérémy Mathieu. Sergi Roberto was sent off against Atlético, but even if he wasn't, the in-form Aleix Vidal will probably play against Alavés, with Roberto saved for the PSG game. On the left side, Jordi Alba and Lucas Digne will fight for a place in both matches, and Alba will probably start in both as Digne is still coming back from injury.

Marc-André ter Stegen is the league and UCL keeper, so he'll start against both Alavés and PSG. An early prediction of the lineup, in the classic 4-3-3:

Ter Stegen
Vidal, Piqué, Mathieu, Alba
Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta
Messi, Suárez, Neymar

liverpool blog fc sbn

So there you have it: the rotation against Alavés still means a strong team, one of the strongest Barça can play, and it'll be great preparation for PSG. Funny how football works, huh?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Barca Blaugranes Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Barca news from Barca Blaugranes