Barcelona are flying high in Europe at the moment having defeated Manchester United in the Champions League. But their focus will be on this weekend’s contest against Real Sociedad on Saturday night and getting closer to the La Liga trophy ahead of the Madrid giants who are way behind the Catalans in the title race.
The Whites and Blues are fighting to grab a top half finish. However, the challenge will be difficult this weekend against Ernesto Valverde’s men. Barca, meanwhile, have a nine-point buffer at the top of the league standings and the gaffer should rotate his options for the Camp Nou contest to keep the squad fit and fresh for the upcoming Champions League games.
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Barcelona does not have significant injury woes except Rafinha who is ruled out for the season after rupturing his cruciate ligament. Thomas Vermaelen continues to be sidelined with thigh problems. Other than that, the manager has the luxury to make changes to his starting XI that grabbed a thumping 3-0 win over the Red Devils on Tuesday night.
Valverde has mostly opted for a 4-3-3 since taking charge of the Catalans and should retain the same against Sociedad irrespective of the changes he might make in his matchday squad.
Marc-André ter Stegen has been majestic between the sticks and should retain his place even though the Blaugrana has Jasper Cillessen as the alternative.
Sergi Roberto started the midweek tie, and the gaffer should opt for Nelson Semedo in the right-back role against Sociedad. Clement Lenglet has been a revelation in Barca backline, yet he should be rested and replaced by Samuel Umtiti as Gerard Pique’s central defensive partner. The ever-reliable Jordi Alba would operate from the left-hand side of the Blaugrana ‘back four’.
Arturo Vidal must start the game to inject his negative traits in midfield. The La Liga giants roped in Arthur a year back, and the Brazilian has done a commendable job considering this is his first season in Europe. He should be retained in midfield too alongside Ivan Rakitic.
Valverde handed Philippe Coutinho a start over Ousmane Dembele versus the Red Devils but should line up the Frenchman from the start alongside hitman Luis Suarez and iconic Lionel Messi in the attacking third.