The second-to-last week of Barcelona’s preseason features two friendlies against Napoli in the United States, the first of which taking place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
Ernesto Valverde has brought all of his first team players except from the injured Lionel Messi, plus three Barça B stars who will be hungry for minutes and a chance to prove themselves.
For the rest of the squad it’s about getting to know each other and working hard to be match fit as the start of La Liga is less than two weeks away.
Let’s take a look at the eleven players most likely to start in Miami.
Gerard Piqué has started both preseason games he was available to play so far and that shouldn’t change against Napoli. He’s looked fit and sharp so far, and playing alongside Samuel Umtiti again will be a good chance to renew a partnership that worked beautifully during the 2017-18 season.
Nélson Semedo and Jordi Alba are likely to start at the full-back positions again, with the only real doubt being in goal. Neto started against Arsenal but Ter Stegen started in the two Japan games, so we’ll see if the German gets the nod here as Valverde is likely to start a stronger team in the first half.
Even though he wasn’t a fan of his own performance, Frenkie De Jong was wonderful against Arsenal and is almost a lock to start again. It will be interesting to see if Valverde tries the Dutchman alongside Sergio Busquets as a duo of holding midfielders, but the most likely option is the same trio of De Jong, Ivan Rakitic and Riqui Puig that played very well together against the Gunners.
Arturo Vidal, Arthur and Philippe Coutinho will probably see their first minutes after the Copa América, but none of them are fit enough to start on Wednesday night.
Messi’s absence makes it easy for Valverde to play a trio of forwards that will probably start at San Mamés in the league opener: Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé.
Dembélé was his usual dangerous self in the Gamper and is getting to play on his favorite right wing position for the first time in forever this preseason. Griezmann continues to impress every time he plays, and it is interesting to see how he’s going to play alongside an actual striker in Suárez.
The two were on the pitch together for less than 10 minutes against Arsenal, and they’ll get a more extended period to figure each other out. Griezmann has always been at his best playing with a classic number nine, and it’ll be fun to watch him looking to combine with Suárez.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, De Jong, Puig; Dembélé, Suárez, Griezmann
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Napoli? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and line-ups in the comments below!