Barcelona’s celebrations of the 2022-23 La Liga title are officially over after the champions lifted the trophy at home following Saturday’s loss to Real Sociedad, and now they have three games left on the schedule before the league season ends.
The first is away to Real Valladolid, who are playing for survival and running out of time in the relegation scrap. They badly need a result and will give everything to take points from the champions in front of the home crowd, while Barça will look to rebound from a tough defeat and have a solid finish to the campaign.
Here’s how we think Xavi Hernández will line up his troops for Tuesday’s battle.
NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo and Pedri’s absences from the official squad list.
Xavi is expected to continue his rotations in this one to not only rest the heavy-minute players from the season but to also give chances to the fringe members of the first team, but he’ll also try to put out a competitive side that wants to get back to winning ways.
At the back, Jules Kounde was substituted at halftime in the last game and has been left out of this one with what Xavi called muscle fatigue, so we’ll get a whole new back four on Tuesday.
Sergi Roberto, Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba are all likely to feature and Andreas Christensen will likely be the only starter out there, with Roberto and Alba in the full-back spots and Alonso alongside the Dane in the middle.
The biggest question is about Marc-André ter Stegen. The German goalkeeper doesn’t need to play any more games to qualify for the Zamora Trophy, so he could be given the night off with Iñaki Peña getting a rare chance to play.
Gavi is back from suspension and will surely return to the lineup, and Sergio Busquets is likely to get rested with the short turnaround between matches. Eric García has played as the pivot in Busquets’ spot in recent games, and we could see him in that spot again on Tuesday.
Franck Kessie will replace Frenkie De Jong if the Dutchman gets a rest and there’s a small chance Pablo Torre gets a start, though that seems unlikely if Gavi is indeed back in the lineup.
Ousmane Dembélé finally started a game after four months, but given the short turnaround from Saturday night it is unlikely the Frenchman gets two starts in a row. And with Raphinha probably getting a rest in this one for rotation purposes, Robert Lewandowski will have two new partners up front.
Our choice is Ferran Torres on the right and Ansu Fati on the left. Both had solid cameos at the weekend off the bench and will look to make an impact from the start, providing creative spark for Pichichi hopeful Lewandowski and maybe finding the net themselves.
Possible XI: Peña; Roberto, Christensen, Alonso, Alba; Kessie, Eric, Gavi; Ferran, Lewandowski, Fati (4-3-3)
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Real Valladolid? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!