Barcelona return to La Liga action this Saturday for one of the toughest road games in the league as they face Granada in the south of Spain.
Barça continue a very busy start to January with a third straight match on the road. They beat Mallorca while missing 16 players last week, then traveled to Third Division Linares in the Copa del Rey without 15 players and still advanced in the Cup, and now they’re playing away again for the third time in seven days while still missing a whole lot of players.
Not even Xavi knows who can or can’t play on Saturday, but we’ll still try to guess the starting XI anyway. Here’s how Barça could line up this weekend.
Ronald Araujo suffered a broken hand against Linares and is expected to miss some time, but Clément Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti should be back from their stomach problems and be available for this one.
But the back four should be pretty easy to guess: without Araujo and with Dani Alves looking good in his debut on Wednesday, Óscar Mingueza will return to the bench and Alves will be at right-back, with Jordi Alba on the left and Eric García as Gerard Piqué’s partner in the center. Marc-André ter Stegen will be back in goal after Neto played in the Cup.
Frenkie De Jong is another casualty from the Linares game and will miss the trip to Granada with a calf problem. Riqui Puig is the natural replacement for the Dutchman alongside Sergio Busquets and Nico González in midfield, but the young man did not have a good game against Linares and might not be able to retain his starting spot for the third game in a row.
As of this writing there are no official updates on whether Gavi and Pedri will test negative for Covid-19 in time to make the trip, but reports say that is the expectation. If they do clear the protocols, one of them will surely take Puig’s place in the middle. Because Pedri is just returning from an injury, it is more likely that Gavi should start if he is indeed available.
Luuk De Jong is back after serving a suspension against Linares and the Dutchman deserves to start after his excellent performance against Mallorca last week. Ferran Jutglà continues to earn more and more trust with Xavi and his game-winner on Wednesday will surely be enough to keep his place in the lineup.
And after his awesome substitute cameo against Linares, Ousmane Dembélé is ready to start against Granada. Even though the Frenchman is a sore subject right now because of his contract status, there’s no denying how good he’s been under Xavi and will continue to be selected by the coach for as long as he stays at the club and is healthy.
Memphis Depay and Ansu Fati are expected to be medically cleared and be named in the squad, but the two will most likely be on the bench and ready to contribute in the second half in their first game back from injury.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Eric, Alba; Nico, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, L. De Jong, Jutglà (4-3-3)
How do YOU think Barcelona should line up against Granada? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!