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Barcelona Go Into International Break with an Eye Toward Atlético Madrid Test

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Barcelona will be without Ivan Rakitić and Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona are hoping Arturo Vidal, Sergio Busquets, and Arthur are bubble wrapped and kept in prime condition over the international break, as the Catalans are set to face Atlético Madrid in a an important La Liga clash right afterwards. Ernesto Valverde will be without Ivan Rakitić through suspension and probably also without Philippe Coutinho due to injury.

Valverde’s choices in midfield are limited, with only Rafinha, Carles Aleñá and the rarely-seen Denis Suárez as alternatives. And even Rafinha will be traveling with the Brazilian national team this time. Meanwhile, Sergi Samper suffered another injury and is not a realistic option. After that, you’d be looking at the B team, unless you intend to move someone from a different spot into midfield - most likely Sergi Roberto (another player who has been called up by his national team.)

Atléti will be a tough test as usual and after Barça’s 3-4 loss at the hands of Betis, the margin for error to keep the top of the table for the Catalans has shrunk.

Will Valverde’s midfielders return in good shape to face the task? Can he rely on his rotation options? We’ll be monitoring the participation of Barcelona players in international fixtures very closely.