After officially clinching the La Liga title last week and celebrating with a parade in the streets of the Catalan capital, Barcelona will officially lift the trophy this Saturday when they meet Real Sociedad at the Spotify Camp Nou.
Having mathematically guaranteed league gold with four matches to go, the Blaugrana now have nothing to play for but are still searching a high points total and a couple of individual awards, as well as giving fringe players a chance to earn more minutes next season.
La Real are fourth in the table and not yet officially guaranteed in next season’s Champions League, so this is a very important game for the Basque side. Here’s how we think Xavi Hernández will line up his troops for Saturday’s festivities.
Xavi is expected to heavily rotate his team in the final four matches to give the players with the fewest minutes this season a chance to play and either earn more minutes next season or become more attractive commodities in the transfer market as Barça look to make a couple of sales to help their finances this summer.
With everyone in play, predicting a lineup is pretty much a shot in the dark, but I wouldn’t expect all 11 starters to be out for this one. Instead we will probably see a few of the heavy-minute players rotated out, with two of those coming at the back: Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde have played a lot recently, so Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba are the likely candidates to replace them if they are indeed rested.
Sergio Busquets will play his penultimate home game as a Barça player and it’s hard not to see the captain starting most if not all of the last four matches before his departure. Other than Busi, everyone else could be rested on Saturday: Frenkie De Jong and Pedri recently returned from injury, and Gavi has looked exhausted over the last month or so.
Pedri and Gavi are the two most likely to be left out as Xavi won’t want to change his team too much, so De Jong is expected to stay with Busquets as the anchor of midfield, with Franck Kessie completing the trio in the center. Expect Pablo Torre to get some minutes this weekend, although it’s unlikely the youngster gets a start.
Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati have been pretty much forgotten lately, and are two players expected to get plenty of run in the last month to either make a case for a bigger role next year or increase their price in the market.
At least one of them will start on Saturday, and Ferran is our choice here. Robert Lewandowski will continue to lead the line as he hopes to wrap up the Pichichi race and be the league’s top scorer in his debut season, while Ousmane Dembélé could finally get a chance to start again after coming off the bench in the last three games.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, Christensen, Alba; Kessie, Busquets, De Jong; Dembélé, Lewandowski, Ferran (4-3-3)
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Real Sociedad? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!