After three wins and two draws, Barcelona have won Champions League Group F, thereby securing safe passage to the knockout phase of the competition. This makes their final group game against Inter redundant, as it is now mathematically impossible for Barca to lose top spot.
Bearing this in mind, the one way for the Blaugranes to derive value from this fixture would be by providing some of their youngsters and fringe players with experience against top European opposition. Let’s look at some of the players who really ought to be given a run-out.
Starting at the back, Neto should be selected as keeper for this one. Not only will this allow him some time on the pitch, but it will also allow for Marc-Andre ter Stegen to take a much-needed break before an action packed week of La Liga action, which includes El Clasico in the midweek.
Neto made some impressive saves in the pre-season match against Arsenal, and kept a respectable 10 clean sheets for Valencia last season. Being Barcelona’s back-up goalkeeper means spending a lot of time on the bench and Neto deserves some game time on Tuesday.
While Semedo and Alba are back in training following their respective calf and hamstring injuries, it would make little sense to bring them back in a game with little significance. This would be an opportune time for a rising talent to take the role of right-back, namely Moussa Wague.
While he has only appeared once for the Blaugranes this season, Wague is another Barca B graduate who deserves the opportunity to show off his talents this season. With Junior Firpo potentially taking the field at left back, the Blaugranes faithful may have the opportunity to see a future full-back pairing in action.
At center-back, Jean-Clair Todibo is in desperate need of game time. So far this season, the 19-year-old has only appeared twice as a substitute. Todibo will be raring to start his first full game this season, and if given the opportunity, will no doubt do his best to secure a place in future match day squads. The French national kept clean sheets in both of his previous appearances and will no doubt look to repeat this feat against Inter.
Moving onto the central midfield and this is an opportune time for Carles Alena to start as a holding mid. The talented youngster has only played 63 minutes this season, and will be raring to test out his play-making abilities against a resolute Inter defense. If there is any current Barca player with the style and potential to replace Sergio Busquets in the long run, it’s Alena. He will therefore require some big-game experience in order to progress in the right direction.
Riqui Puig is another player who could be called upon after being named in the squad. The highly-rated 20-year-old hasn’t made a single first-team appearance this season, and while a start may be out of the question a place on the bench might be worthwhile.
Faced with yet another Ousmane Dembele injury, Barca are seriously lacking depth on the wings. Fortunately, 17 year-old Ansu Fati is available for selection again. Fati has so far proven that he has the potential to become a future Blaugranes’ star. Since impressively scoring a goal and bagging an assist against Valencia, Fati has been integrating smoothly into the Barca setup, and his involvement in the Inter game could prove game-changing.
To fill the void at right wing, Barca has 21-year-old Carles Perez. This Barca academy graduate was impressive during the pre-season, scoring two against Vissel Kobe. He will no doubt look to secure a spot in the first team by producing an impressive performance on match day.
All in all, this match will provide a prime opportunity for Barca’s youngsters to get some big game experience. While some regular starters may be called upon to fill some vacancies, it may be worth the risk to select some of Barca’s inexperienced youngsters or even make a few call-ups from the Blaugranes’ B team.