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Yellow cards and fixture congestion force Barcelona to rotate

Barcelona has pivotal matches against Atlético Madrid and Manchester United on the horizon

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

FC Barcelona may take a gigantic step to win La Liga and another huge step in trying to win the UEFA Champions League soon, but first they have to take on Villarreal.

The yellow submarine is only one point ahead of the relegation zone and will host league leading Barcelona tomorrow. The Catalans will then face Atlético Madrid at the Camp Nou four days later before going to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League on the 10th.

United themselves will only play against Wolverhampton Wanderers before facing Barça, enjoying 8 days’ rest in the process.

This situation will surely force Ernesto Valverde to rotate some, especially as three important players are one card away from missing one match in the league: Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitić, and Arturo Vidal.

One good thing for Valverde is that some of his players missed some or part of the international break matches. Luis Suárez didn’t travel with his national team, Piqué played an exhibition with the Catalan national team, and Lionel Messi played only one of Argentina’s two friendlies. This has afforded some of his key players a bit of a rest going into this run of games. Another good development would be the return of Ousmane Dembélé from injury. He’s expected to be back to play against Atlético.

Another opportunity to rotate exists between the two games against United, when Barcelona play against the 20th-placed team in La Liga, SD Huesca.

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