Barcelona will look to rebound from a horrible night in Europe in midweek as they welcome Deportivo Alavés to the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium looking to keep pace with the top of the La Liga table.
The Blaugrana are in desperate need of not only three points but most importantly a quality performance after a disaster showing away to Shakhtar Donetsk which followed another terrible display in their win away to Real Sociedad. There’s a lot of pressure on players and manager Xavi Hernández to perform this weekend and go into the final international break of the year with some semblance of positivity.
Alavés are in good form, losing just one of their last four in the league and winning 10-0 in their Copa del Rey debut last week. The visitors are ready to upset the Catalan giants on the road, and this should be a very interesting match. Here’s how we think Xavi will line up his troops for Saturday’s battle.
After dealing with a lot of injuries and tough matches with a short squad over the last month, Xavi will be looking to freshen things up for this one and make a few changes to try and find a formula for success this weekend.
At the back, Jules Kounde is set to return to the backline after sitting out the game against Shakhtar and will most likely replace Ronald Araujo, who had a bit of an injury scare in midweek and won’t be risked this weekend. Iñigo Martínez sat on the bench in Germany but is also expected to come back to the lineup, as Andreas Christensen continues to have his minutes monitored as he deals with a persistent calf issue.
João Cancelo will never be rested, and if Araujo is indeed rotated out of this one out of precaution there is no choice but to start the Portuguese at right-back with Alejandro Balde rounding out the back four.
Pedri is expected to make his first start since returning from injury as Gavi is suspended and not available for this one, and Pedri should be ready for a heavier workload this one after coming off the bench in the last two games.
Ilkay Gündogan looked exhausted at the end of a Shakthar match and would benefit from a rest in this one, and we believe that will indeed happen as the German is likely to be replaced by young Fermín López. If Gündogan is indeed rested, then Oriol Romeu would complete the midfield trio.
Barça’s attack was anemic and uncreative against Shakhtar, and Xavi is yet to find a front three combination he can truly trust. For this one, we are expecting Lamine Yamal to return to the lineup alongside Robert Lewandowski and João Félix.
All five of Barça’s attackers are struggling at the moment, but against a leaky Alavés defense there is hope the forward players can finally put together a solid performance again and take a step in the right direction after a tough run of games in front of goal.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Kounde, Iñigo, Balde; Pedri, Romeu, Fermín; Yamal, Lewandowski, Félix (4-3-3)
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Alavés? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!