After a rare full week of rest and training in Catalonia, Barcelona continue their journey in La Liga with a trip to Elche on Sunday afternoon.
Barça are in fantastic form after a brilliant February, winning their last three games and scoring four goals in each of them along with excellent football. Xavi’s team looks in great position to finish in the Top 4, but they can’t afford to drop points and lose the advantage of having a game in hand.
But it won’t be easy against an Elche side that hasn’t lost at home since last November and have made things difficult for the Blaugrana in the past. Let’s see how Barça could line up on Sunday.
A trip to Turkey to face Galatasaray in the Europa League is around the corner, but it is difficult to see any rotations from Xavi after a full week of training. And when it comes to the defense, there aren’t a lot of great options beyond the usual starters, so the backline will be as strong as we normally see it.
Sergiño Dest has been fantastic in recent matches and doesn’t deserve to go to the bench, but Jordi Alba is back from suspension and will regain his spot at left-back. Dest could start on the right but Dani Alves can’t play in the Europa League, so the legend will most likely play on Sunday with the American dropping to the bench.
Frenkie De Jong was surprisingly left out of the starting lineup against Athletic Bilbao last week but was once again very impactful off the bench, and continues to enjoy perhaps his best run of form in a Barça shirt. The Dutchman should return on Sunday, with Sergio Busquets retaining his place as the anchor in the middle.
The third member of midfield remains up in the air: Gavi is suspended for the Galatasaray trip and has a chance to start this one to stay in a good rhythm, but Pedri was sensational against Athletic and doesn’t deserve the bench at the moment. It’s a great selection headache for Xavi, and it’s really a toss-up between the two young superstars unless the coach surprises everyone and benches Busquets in favor of a Gavi-Frenkie-Pedri trio. We’ll find out.
Ansu Fati is the only true key player out of the team because of injury at the moment, but thankfully the Barça attack looks amazing even without one of its most important players. The Catalans continue to score for fun and several players are in excellent form, and just like with his midfield options Xavi has another big selection headache when it comes to the front three.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is untouchable at the moment, unless Xavi wants to give him a day off to keep him fresh. Ousmane Dembélé was simply sublime in his substitute cameo on Sunday, and the Frenchman deserves to play more minutes. Adama Traoré continues to impress, and Ferran Torres remains a big part of the attack as well. Memphis Depay and Luuk De Jong both scored off the bench last Sunday, but they don’t seem to have a real chance to start right now.
Assuming Aubameyang isn’t rested, the Gabonese will start up front and will most likely be partnered by the red-hot Dembélé in one of the wing spots. The third place will go to either Adama (and his muscles) or Ferran, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Torres getting a rest having played a lot of minutes since making his Barça debut.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Araujo, Alba; F. De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Adama, Aubameyang, Dembélé (4-3-3)
How do YOU think Barcelona should line up against Elche? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!