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How should Barcelona line up against Athletic Bilbao?

The champions need to bounce back

FC Barcelona v SD Huesca - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona play again on Saturday, as they welcome Athletic Bilbao to the Camp Nou in La Liga.

After dropping points after Girona and Leganes the game has become a bit of a must-win for Ernesto Valverde’s side.

However, the club also face a tough trip to Tottenham on Wednesday night which means team selection will be important. Let’s have a look at who might feature.


FC Barcelona v Boca Juniors - Joan Gamper Trophy Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona really need to improve in defence after giving away some really poor goals against Girona and Leganes.

Clement Lenglet will be available after being banned against Leganes. Valverde must decide between the Frenchman and Thomas Vermaelen with Samuel Umtiti not in the squad due to injury.

Nelson Semedo or Sergi Roberto is the usual question at right-back, while Jordi Alba should return on the left after starting the game against Leganes on the bench.

Gerard Pique will probably keep his place in the heart of defence, but Valverde will be after a vastly improved showing from the 31-year-old.


Valverde also has decisions to make in midfield too, and he may be tempted to revert back to a 4-4-2 after some uncertain showings.

Philippe Coutinho may have secured his place in the team with his goal against Leganes, Sergio Busquets should feature which makes Ivan Rakitic the most likely to be rotated. Rafinha, Arthur and Arturo Vidal are the most likely players to come in.

CD Leganes v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Barcelona have a fully fit squad to choose from, so if Valverde does want to make changes he has plenty of options. The difficult part is getting it right.


Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Luis Suarez looks destined to return after starting the loss to Leganes on the bench and seeing his replacement, Munir, have a quiet game.

There’s no room for Malcom in the squad which means Ousmane Dembele should continue in attack.

And then there’s Messi, who picked up an assist against Leganes and hit the crossbar but seemed to miss both Suarez and Alba.

Probable starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Coutinho: Dembele, Messi, Suarez.

How do you think Barcelona should line up against Athletic? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and lineups in the comments below.

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