Deportivo Alaves were off to a decent start to their La Liga campaign after 37 years in the second tier of Spanish football. The Segunda division winners from last season shocked Atletico Madrid in the season opener with a 1-1 stalemate before managing a 0-0 draw with Sporting Gijon. However, a real test awaits them this Saturday when the face La Liga holders Barcelona at Camp Nou. Luis Enrique’s side started their season with a 6-2 victory over Real Betis but they looked a bit off-colour in the second game week even though they managed to get a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
Alaves have been defensively solid this season so far and Barcelona might face it hard to find their way passed their resolute defence if Lionel Messi misses the game. The Argentine is a major doubt for the encounter with a groin injury as well Andres Iniesta which means that the Catalan giants might lack the creativity against Alaves. There is good news for Barcelona as well as Neymar is back from international duty and should be back to the starting XI.
Here is the predicted Barcelona lineup against Alaves.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen will start under the bar ahead of Jasper Cillessen. The back our is unlikely to be altered from Enrique. Sergi Roberto will continue in the right-back position while Gerard Pique will be partnered by Samuel Umtiti at the heart of the defence. Jordi Alba will start in the left-back position.
Sergio Busquets is an indispensable member of the Barcelona team and will keep his place in defensive midfield. The 28-year-old will protect the back four while he will also act as the bridge between defence and attack with his brilliant passing and ability to dictate the tempo of the game. Ivan Rakitic grabbed the winner against Athletic Bilbao in the last game. The Croat will keep his place in midfield alongside Denis Suarez and play as the two box to box midfielders.
With Lionel Messi doubtful with injury and Neymar back into the team, Arda Turan is likely to start on the right flank while Neymar will take the Turk’s place on the left. Luis Suarez will the automatic choice up front for Enrique.