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How will Barcelona line up against Espanyol?

The champions kick off 2020 with a Catalan Derby

Barcelona V Valencia, La Liga regular season. Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

La Liga champions Barcelona return to action on Saturday with a trip to Espanyol in their first game of 2020.

It’s a case of top meets bottom in La Liga as Barca face a struggling Espanyol team that have just 10 points from 18 games and recently appointed Abelardo as their new boss.

The hosts will no doubt he hoping to benefit from a bit of new manager ‘bounce’ and would love nothing better than to disrupt Barca’s title push.

Let’s have a look at how the visitors might line up:

Defence

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Marc-Andre ter Stegen could miss this one due to knee trouble which means Neto may get to make his first La Liga start for Barcelona.

Barcelona don’t really have any other injury problems in defence but Ernesto Valverde does have decisions to make in his backline.

Again there’s the usual choice between Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto at right-back, while Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet are competing for a spot alongside Gerard Pique.

Midfield

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Into midfield and Barcelona’s options have diminished a little. Arthur is out for three weeks, while Carles Alena has joined Real Betis on loan.

All of which makes a midfield of Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong the most likely option on Saturday.

Arturo Vidal is fit and available but is also suing the club over unpaid bonuses and on his way/not on his way to Inter Milan depending on which gossip column you read.

Attack

Barcelona V Alaves Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Barcelona only welcomed back Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to training on Thursday, but it still seems likely the duo will start against Espanyol.

We know that Messi has been keeping in shape by training at a random gym in Rosario and hopefully he can hit the ground running in 2020.

Antoine Griezmann should complete the attack and was in good form at the end of 2019, scoring against Alaves, Sociedad and Real Mallorca.

Possible XI: Neto; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Frenkie; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann.

How do you think Barcelona should line up against Espanyol? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!

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