After enjoying their first full week of training in a very long time Barcelona are back in action to finish off the La Liga campaign, starting with the visit of Mallorca to Camp Nou on Sunday.
Barça are coming off a tough loss at home to Rayo Vallecano which officially ended their small title hopes and made their job of qualifying for next season’s Champions League a little tougher going into the last five games of the season.
The Blaugrana need two more wins to confirm a Top 4 finish, and they badly need a reaction after a tough run of results against inferior sides. Mallorca are another team Barça should beat, but will come to Camp Nou in desperate need of a result in their fight against relegation. Let’s see how Barça could line up on Sunday.
Their first full week of training and rest was filled with some really bad news when it comes to absences: Xavi will have just six first team defenders available for Sunday’s match as Sergiño Dest will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury and Óscar Mingueza teting positive for Covid-19.
The only two available full-backs are Dani Alves and Jordi Alba, so they obviously start on Sunday. Gerard Piqué should be fully fit to return from a groin issue in this one and is likely to partner Ronald Araujo in the middle, with Eric García and Clément Lenglet on the bench.
When it rains, it pours, and Barça got another piece of terrible injury news as Nico González suffered a bone fracture in his left foot and is also expected to miss the rest of the season, which is another blow to a Barça midfield already missing its best player in Pedri.
Only four first team midfielders are now available: Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong, Gavi and Riqui Puig, who will most likely be the one left out of Sunday’s lineup. Xavi has no choice but to play Riqui at least a few minutes now, and the likes of Álvaro Sanz and Jandro Orellana could be called up from Barça B to make up the numbers without Pedri and Nico.
Barça badly need some good news right now, and we’re getting it this Sunday with the much anticipated return of Ansu Fati who is expected to be included in the squad and play at least a few minutes as a substitute in the second half after missing nearly four months through injury.
Ansu’s return doesn’t change Xavi’s mind in regards to his starting front three for now as the Prince isn’t fit enough to start, but Ousmane Dembélé, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres should all be on notice. Fati was an undisputed starter before his injury issues, and if he can finally stay healthy he will fight for real minutes in the final five games. It’s a big boost to a Barça attack that’s been struggling recently, and maybe Ansu will score a big goal off the bench as he loves to do.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Piqué, Alba; F. De Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, Aubameyang, Ferran (4-3-3)
How do YOU think Barcelona should line up against Mallorca? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!